Ross Ulbricht: Found Guilty of Running Silk Road as Dread Pirate Roberts
Ross Ulbricht now faces life in prison for founding & running the original Silk Road website. Ulbricht was charged with seven counts including: trafficking drugs on the Internet, narcotics-trafficking conspiracy, running a continuing criminal enterprise, computer-hacking conspiracy and money-laundering conspiracy. (The case is U.S. v. Ulbricht, 14-cr-068, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)).
After nearly four hours of deliberation, the jury found Ulbricht guilty on all seven counts, He will be sentenced on 30 May and could face between 20 years and life in prison.
During its two-year life (2011 – 2013), Silk Road – which could only be accessed through the Tor web browser – grew to become the biggest illegal drug market on the internet, allegedly earning its owner millions of dollars in commission.
Lyn Ulbricht, Ross’ mother, said she “assumes” Ross will appeal the guilty verdict, and that evidence indicating there was more than one Dread Pirate Roberts was not allowed. She said their lawyer was “shackled” by the judge’s decision to not hear evidence from three of the defence’s witnesses. “You can’t get the full picture when you cherry pick evidence,” Mrs Ulbricht added.
Ulbricht’s defence said the 30-year-old created Silk Road, but found running the site “too stressful after a few months, and he handed it off to others.”
Joshua Dratel, Ulbricht’s lawyer, said his client was lured back into running the website after its owners found out an FBI raid was imminent. Dratel described Ulbricht as the perfect “fall guy.”
The trial’s closing argumentsÂ saw the prosecution claim Ulbricht ran the Silk Road website from its creation in early 2011 to its closure by the FBI in October, 2013. Prosecutors describe the Texan as a power-hungry kingpin who used threats of violence and murder to protect his multimillion-dollar drug empire.
Silk Road “was his baby, and he stayed with it enthusiastically for nearly three years,” assistant US attorney Serrin Turner told the court. “It was his secret livelihood. It was his passion.”