Silk Road Founder Guilty On Federal Charges
( 4UMF NEWS ) Silk Road Founder Guilty On Federal Charges:
“Dread Pirate Roberts” won’t be forced to walk the plank — but he is guilty of masterminding a notorious underground website known as “Silk Road” that let its clientele buy and sell methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and other illicit goods by using the encrypted virtual currency bitcoin.
Ross Ulbricht, 30, is staring at life in prison after being convicted Wednesday for drug trafficking, money laundering, conspiracy and other related crimes.
A Manhattan federal jury deliberated a little over three hours before finding the so-called “Dark-Web” kingpin guilty on all seven counts related to his operating the Silk Road website from January 2011 until October 2013 under the workplace alias “Dread Pirate Roberts,” ostensibly based on a character in the 1987 cult classic film “The Princess Bride.”
The case – which Ulbricht supporters claimed was a big hit against Internet freedom — marked the feds’ largest-ever seizure of bitcoins. It also brought attention to the mysterious “Dark Web” as Silk Road was only accessible through the anonymous Tor network that conceals users.
Ulbricht was surprising upbeat after the verdict, smiling and waving to family members and friends sitting in the packed courtroom as he was escorted away by US Marshals. His mother, Lyn, yelled out “It’s not the end.” Others sobbed after the verdict was read.
“This was far from a fair trial, the defense was hamstrung,” Lyn Ulbricht told reporters afterwards, referring to Judge Katherine Forrest’s decision to prohibit a bitcoin expert and other “key” defense witnesses from testifying.
She added that she expects her son to appeal the verdict.
Prosecutors say Ulbricht enabled more than $1 million in illegal drug deals and pocketed 144,336 bitcoins off the site that were worth $18 million at the time of his October 2013 arrest.
The government recovered at total of 173,991 bitcoins while pursuing the case, including about 144,336 from Ulbricht’s computer. Bitcoins fluctuate in value, and the bitcoins seized directly from Ulbricht were worth $33.4 million as Tuesday.
Defense lawyer Joshua Dratel throughout the three-week trial claimed that while Ulbricht created the site, he handed it off to others after a only few months. He claimed his client became the “fall guy” for the site’s true administrator who famously went by “Dread Pirate Roberts.”
He also told the jury that any evidence linking Ulbricht, of San Francisco, to Silk Road’s illegal transactions were likely planted through hacking by the real “DPR.”
But federal prosecutor Serrin Turner called Dratel’s defense “absurd,” claiming the feds found a “mountain of evidence” — including emails — after seizing Ulbricht’s laptop and shutting down Silk Road servers in October 2013.
He also painted Ulbricht as an egomaniac who thought he was so above the law that he could weed off enemies by hiring hit men to whack them off “through a click of a mouse.”
“Thank goodness that this man’s power trip was stopped before he was able to connect with a true hitman,” said Turner, referring to “Dread Pirate Roberts” allegedly spending $730,000 on six failed murder-for-hire plots.
Although Ulbricht was on trial in Manhattan for murder plots, he is facing additional charges in Baltimore for one of the alleged murder schemes.
The investigation was jump-started more than two years before Ulbricht’s arrest by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Strike Force in New York, which brought in the FBI’s cyber crime unit and the IRS.
As of late September 2013, there were 13,000 listings for drugs on the site, including “Cannabis,” “Ecstasy” and “Stimulants.”
There were also other listings, including 169 for “forgeries” placed by vendors offering fake drivers licenses and other fraudulent documents and another 159 under the category of “services” that included “firearms and ammunition” and “hitmen.”
- Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht Convicted of All 7 Charges; Faces Life In Prison (thehackernews.com)
- Is Web Hosting a Crime? Silk Road Founder Convicted (tech.co)
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