‘Darknet’ market spokesman pleads guilty to federal charge

ATLANTA (AP) _ An Illinois man who worked as a spokesman for a “darknet” marketplace used for illegal online sales has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge in Atlanta.

Ronald L. Wheeler III of Streamwood, Illinois, pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of conspiracy to commit access device fraud.

Prosecutors say, Wheeler, known online as Trappy and Trappy_Pandora, began working as AlphaBay’s public relations specialist in May 2015 and worked with others to traffic in personal information, using it without authorization to obtain money, goods, and services.

Authorities say AlphaBay was the world’s leading darknet marketplace – where people traded in illegal drugs, firearms, and counterfeit goods – before law enforcement took it down in July.

U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May accepted Wheeler’s guilty plea and set sentencing for May 24.