Federal prosecutors have reached a secret plea deal with a Carmichael man at the center of a bizarre case involving sales of poisons and weapons over the Internet.
James Christopher Malcolm was arrested in May 2014 on explosives and weapons charges in a wide-ranging case that focused on the dark net, the shadowy side of the Internet where online sales of weapons, narcotics and counterfeit products are bartered in the secret realm using encryption and payments in Bitcoin and other untraceable currencies.
Malcolm, 31, was arrested by federal agents after a two-month undercover operation that was cut short when authorities became concerned that he had discovered he was being watched, and that his products might endanger residents of his neighborhood, court records state.
He was charged with illegally dealing in firearms, possession of a machine gun and transferring explosive materials.
Malcolm, who has been held in the Sacramento County jail without bail since his arrest, originally pleaded not guilty and sought a jury trial.
But at a hearing in federal court in Sacramento on Thursday, Malcolm pleaded guilty to possession of a biological agent, unlawful dealing in firearms and illegal possession of a machine gun.
“As the docket shows, Mr. Malcolm was briefly involved in the sale of weapons and a crude form of biotoxin,” his federal public defender, Ben Galloway, said Friday. “This was Mr. Malcolm’s first brush with the law, and it was a desperate attempt to keep a roof over his family’s heads.
“Mr. Malcolm never intended harm to anyone, and no one was harmed by his actions. Still, he regrets his mistake and he is working to make amends.”