Feds arrest former California state IT worker in alleged dark web counterfeit drug scam

A Sacramento man convicted in 2018 of illegal use of California Department of Technology computers while he worked there has been arrested and charged in a new case with conspiracy to traffic drugs, money laundering and trafficking in counterfeit items.

Jonathan Patrick Turrentine, 39, was booked Wednesday into the Sacramento County Main Jail and is named in a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday that charges him with using dark web internet sites to sell drugs, counterfeit Viagra tablets and stolen email addresses and passwords.

Court papers say Turrentine used the moniker Caliplugmike on the dark web Empire Marketplace to offer “various quantities of LSD, cocaine, Xanax pills, Adderall pills, psilocybin mushrooms, ecstasy, and marijuana products in various forms, including edibles, vape pens/cartridges, and marijuana buds in gram, ounce, and pound quantities for sale.”

“He also offered for sale compromised emails and passwords,” court papers say. “Over the course of this investigation, undercover agents purchased various items of contraband from Caliplugmike.”

An affidavit filed by Internal Revenue Service criminal investigation Special Agent Christopher Fitzpatrick says Turrentine has a 2004 arrest for possession of marijuana for sale and a conviction while he worked for the state for conspiring with a co-worker “to mine the digital currency Monero,” which bills itself as a cryptocurrency that is “secure, private, untraceable.”

“In March 2018, Turrentine pleaded no contest to accessing illegally a computer network to obtain money, property, or data wrongfully, and was sentenced to three years of probation and 30 days in jail,” the affidavit says.

State Department of Technology officials did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment. The online database Transparent California shows he was last employed there as a systems software specialist in 2016 earning $119,978 in salary and benefits.

Turrentine made his initial court appearance Thursday afternoon on the charges, which could lead to up to 20 years in prison and $2 million in fines. He did not enter a plea and was ordered to remain in custody pending another hearing Monday.

Investigators began looking at Turrentine in November 2018, when a suspicious package addressed to him arrived at the Royal Oaks Post Office and a drug-sniffing dog detected narcotics, court papers say.

Agents went to a home where Turrentine was renting a room and he told them he was not expecting the package, court papers say.

Full Article: https://www.fresnobee.com/news/california/article254471138.html

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