Former Professor Threatens Judge with “Theoretical” Dark Web Hitman Site Stories
A former professor at a university was arrested in early November for threatening a Florida judge in court documents he had filed in an ongoing child custody case. According to the arrest report, the former professor filed documents explaining how someone other than himself might hire a contract killer on the dark web to murder the judge presiding over the case.
Robert Michael Ardis, a former professor and criminal justice program coordinator at Pensacola State College (PSC), was picked up by Florida law enforcement for three charges pertaining to the threatening of Florida First Judicial Circuit Judge Darlene Dickey. In the state of Florida, written communication containing a death threat or threats to cause bodily injury to the intended recipient of the communication is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. And, general threats to elected public officials, law enforcement, and similar government entities are misdemeanors. Ardis currently faces two felony charges and a single misdemeanor charge.
Although written threats to judges and other court officials through official motions, letters, or even social media posts are not uncommon occurrences, the threatening court documents intended for Judge Darlene Dickey may be the only court documents threatening death through a murder-for-hire site on the dark web. The documents detailed the steps needed to access hidden services such as Crimebay, Costra Nostra, or other reboots of Besa Mafia. Not only did Adris provide detailed steps on how someone could hire a hitman to kill the judge using one of the known murder-for-hire scam sites through an avenue that guaranteed his arrest, he explained how someone could have the judge killed in a way where someone’s connection to the hitman was “completely untraceable.”
If someone managed to hire a hitman on the dark web to kill a judge, his phrasing was as frivolous as the use of “SWIM” (someone who isn’t me) on online drug forums. Adris specifically wrote that if someone were to pay for the judge’s murder, it would be “a lesser person” than Adris. Adris, perhaps unaware that the judge could easily see that Florida law enforcement had arrested the man at least five times, added that the person to hire a hitman had to be “a lesser person” because Adris himself would remain “faithful to the law.” Like the vendors of legal research chemicals who once thought labeling substances “not for human consumption” ensured the legality of their operation, Adris likely believed that describing this theoretical event that “might” happen protected him from facing any repercussions. His threats included vivid scenarios where a hitman would theoretically wait for the judge to get home from work, “walk up behind her, pull her neck back and slice her throat from ear to ear.” A recent police report with Adris’ name in it and an inmate listing for Adris at the Escambia County Jail indicated that speaking about an elected public official’s upcoming murder in a “theoretical” sense was not a legal loophole he had discovered.
Ardis has a history of underestimating entities with some form of control over Ardis’ life. The most telling example is when he lost his employment at Pensacola State College for gross insubordination, gross misconduct, gross incompetence, and willful neglect of duty. Ardis plotted to use an internet scam to scam the school into paying him significantly more money. In 2009, Ardis requested a sabbatical leave from Pensacola State College so that he could obtain a Master’s degree “in the area of government.” The school allowed him to complete the Master’s program on a one semester paid sabbatical. He was not required to complete his regular teaching duties but still received his regular pay. During the sabbatical, Ardis elected to teach other “overload” classes, earning more money than he could have made while actively teaching under the contract with the school. When he returned and attempted to negotiate a raise with his new Master’s degree as a qualifier, the school had learned that Ardis had spent $50 at the site of a known fraudster for a fake degree from a fake university. The school fired Ardis.
In the court documents Ardis filed, he wrote that he had recently watched “a documentary on CBS (48 Hours), regarding the Dark Web, which is untraceable with the TOR Browser.” In another segment, he added that “it is amazing that it is possible for a person to go online, hire a contract killer, pay that killer in Bitcoin, which is completely untraceable, and then have the person assassinated.” The CBS documentaries about murder-for-hire hidden services actually revealed that the owner of the sites has been scamming customers into believing they have hired a real hitman. Ardis had somehow watched the two 48 Hours episodes about fraudulent hitmen hidden services and came to the conclusion that the sites were not scams.
He is currently in Escambia County jail with a $80,000 bond.