An Elmore man has been placed on federal probation for two years and fined $1,025 in U.S. District Court in Burlington for his attempt to buy MDMA/ecstasy through the dark web.
Jesse R. Yushkevich, 29, also must forfeit $2,600 he used during his effort to buy 4 ounces of “Pure Dutch MDMA” last year, federal Judge Christina Reiss ruled.
Yushkevich was at his Lamoille County home when he accepted a shipment of what he thought was the illegal drug on March 6, 2019, records show. Immediately after the controlled delivery, investigators from U.S. Homeland Security executed a federal search warrant at his residence, court records show. They noted Yushkevich was found with the open shipment box and his fiancée was also in the room.
Federal investigators had replaced the real drugs, also known as Molly, with similar-appearing contents.
Yushkevich didn’t know that federal authorities had taken control of the dark web vendor’s business that had been used to distribute drugs, including MDMA/ecstasy, a prosecutor said. Yushkevich was actually dealing with undercover federal investigators when he placed his final drug order, court records note.
Once confronted by investigators, Yushkevich freely admitted his drug history, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Lasher said. Court documents indicate Yushkevich had made eight drug purchases through the dark web, but the amounts and prices were unclear from the vendor’s records.
Lasher said Yushkevich accepted responsibility for his actions right away and was not arrested immediately because he of his frankness.
Reiss said she initially had reservation about allowing Yushkevich to plead to a misdemeanor, especially with multiple orders on the dark web. Reiss said he was fortunate the U.S. Attorney’s Office was not pushing for a felony conviction.
She noted he also was using Bitcoin to aid with the purchase of drugs and the delivery.
Since prosecutors gave him a break, “I plan to make the most of it,” Yushkevich told the court.
Yushkevich, a graduate of Peoples Academy in Morrisville, said his drug arrest had hurt his parents and his fiancée.
Reiss told him that, if he fails to comply with the terms of probation, he can be resentenced and spend time in federal prison.
Based on his cooperation, lack of a criminal history and other factors, the federal sentencing guidelines, which are advisory, had proposed a sentence of up to six months.
Defense lawyer Chandler W. Matson of Stowe said Yushkevich has remained drug-free and continues to work at his mother’s business, Vercom, a telecommunications and data networking service provider for companies engaged in finance, law, retail and health care.
Matson said Yushkevich has accepted responsibility for his actions and believes his client is a low risk to re-offend.
Matson said Yushkevich started using marijuana as a teen, moved to recreational use of cocaine at Champlain College and eventually began using the party drug ecstasy.
Yushkevich’s sentencing memorandum noted he has a good work ethic. He had internships at the World Trade Center in Ireland while at Champlain College and later at the Vermont Department of Commerce.
Matson reported Yushkevich said the MDMA shipments were primarily for him, but at some point he agreed to sell to friends and acquaintances as a way to support his drug use.
Yushkevich had pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor count in March.