Ross Ulbricht, Silk Road Creator, Found Guilty, Could Face Life In Prison
Ross Ulbricht was found guilty on Wednesday on seven charges regarding his involvement as the founder of Silk Road, a massive online black market.
Ross Ulbricht Found Guilty Of Running Criminal Enterprise
Ulbricht, 30, was arrested in October 2013 and authorities believe him to be the mastermind behind Silk Road, the secretive online black market that facilitated the selling of drugs, fake IDs and illegal goods.
Ulbricht stood trial for seven charges, including money laundering conspiracy, drug trafficking, computer hacking conspiracy and running a continuing criminal enterprise. After a few hours of deliberation, a jury found him guilty on all counts. Ulbricht’s sentencing has been set for May 15, and he faces a minimum of 30 years in prison and a maximum of life.
“The supposed anonymity of the dark web is not a protective shield from arrest and prosecution,” said Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bahara after the verdict.
Ulbricht To Appeal Decision
Prosecutors claim that Ulbricht worked as an administrator of the site from it’s launch in 2011 to his arrest, and presented evidence tying Ulbricht to a Bitcoin account that held about $13 million in profits from Silk Road sale commissions. But Ulbricht, who denies being the man behind a criminal conspiracy, says he simply created the site as an “economic experiment” and was set up to take the fall for the operation by former CEO of Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, Mark Karpeles.
Defense attorney Joshua Dratel argued that Ulbricht created Silk Road but quickly left it in the hands of friends and colleagues who lured him back to the enterprise to evade prosecution themselves. Dratel maintains that his client might not be the ‘Dread Pirate Roberts,’ the pseudonym used by the Silk Road administrator. Instead, the defense suggested that Ulbricht’s own computers had been hacked to implicate him further.
The defense and Ulbricht’s parents Lyn and Kirk Ulbricht claim that US District Judge Katherine Forrest prevented the defense from introducing what they saw as key evidence, including presenting their own Bitcoin expert and cross examining government officials about Karpeles. “What you saw in terms of the length of deliberations is demonstrative of [what happens] when the defense is precluded and limited and circumscribed in the way that it was,” Dratel told reporters.
“I think it would have been a very different outcome if the jury had been permitted to hear all the evidence,” Lyn added.
Dratel added that Ulbricht intends to appeal the verdict.
Even if their son did create Silk Road, Lyn and Kirk don’t believe that he should be tried as a sort of drug kingpin. “Can you hold an alleged website host responsible for the actions of the users on his site? If a precedent is set for that, that will put a chill on the Internet,” Lyn said in an interview with CNN.