N.J. Man Admits Trying to Hire Hitman to Kill Teenager He Sent Explicit Photos

John Michael Musbach used a murder-for-hire website to arrange the murder of a teenager who he'd exchanged inappropriate photos and videos with in summer 2015

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A New Jersey man is facing up to 10 years in prison for attempting to hire a hitman to murder a teen he feared would reveal his explicit images and videos, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

John Musbach pleaded guilty to a murder-for-hire charge at the U.S. District Court in Camden, N.J., on Thursday, when he admitted to using a website that promised to kill an individual in exchange for a cryptocurrency Bitcoin payment, according to a news release from the DOJ.

Musbach's crimes date back to summer 2015 when he exchanged sexually explicit photographs and videos with the victim, who was then 13 years old and living in New York, the DOJ said.

After the teen's parents found out about the exchanged media, the DOJ said they contacted the local police, and in March 2016 the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office (ACPO) arrested Musbach, now 31, on child pornography charges and executed a search warrant at his residence, then in Galloway, N.J.

After his arrest, Musbach decided to have the victim — whose identity has not been revealed — killed so that they could not testify against him in his pending criminal case, per the DOJ.

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The Mitchell H. Cohen U.S. Courthouse in Camden, N.J.
The Mitchell H. Cohen U.S. Courthouse in Camden, N.J. Google Maps

Throughout May 2016, the DOJ said that Musbach "repeatedly communicated" with the owner of a murder-for-hire website operating on the dark web that offered to kill or execute acts of violence in return for a payment in cryptocurrency.

Musbach also asked if a 14-year-old was too young to target and later paid approximately 40 bitcoin, which equated to around $20,000 at the time, for the murder to take place when he learned that age was not an issue.

But when Musbach was asked for an additional $5,000 to execute the murder-for-hire plot, and after numerous attempts were made to follow up about the murder and when it would occur, the DOJ said he eventually asked for his hit to be canceled and sought a refund of his $20,000.

That is when the website's administrator revealed to Musbach that it was a scam and threatened to reveal Musbach's information to law enforcement, stated the DOJ.

Musbach, who could face up to 10 years in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced later this year on June 13.

Rocco C. Cipparone, Musbach's lawyer, says in a statement to PEOPLE that his client "decided to put this matter behind him without a trial, and accepted his responsibility."

"The more limited negotiated sentencing range in the plea agreement appropriately limits Mr. Musbach's sentencing exposure, for reasons which will be expounded upon at sentencing," he continues. "We look forward to putting forth in context detailed mitigating information, and positive information, about Mr. Musbach and the aberrational for him nature of his conduct."

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