“Since Ross Ulbricht’s arrest, my family and I have endured the persistent drumbeat of his supporters who proclaim Mr. Ulbricht a hero and persistently portray his crime as victimless.” The American father of Bryan, testifying at the sentencing of how his son lost his life from heroin purchased on the Dark Web “Silk Road” marketplace.
“Silk Road made it easily accessible to anyone, children included.” Court transcript quote of The Australian mother whose 16-year-old son died from an illegal drug his friend purchased from the “Silk Road”.
ROSS ULBRICHT is one of the “American Political” prisoners featured on Rudy and Erin Davis’ Year of Jubile website, under their Prisoner Pen Pals section.
Who is Ross Ulbricht?
In the 18 page Government Sentencing Submission filed 5/26/15 as Document 256 in Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF(ross ulbricht presentencing letter), the first paragraph states, “…Ulbricht stands before the Court convicted of all seven counts of the Indictment in connection with his creation and operation of the Silk Road website. The evidence at trial established that Ulbricht ran a massive narcotics-trafficking enterprise that dramatically lowered the barriers to obtaining illegal drugs. As the Presentence Report (“PSR”) filed by the Probation Office makes clear, that enterprise resulted in serious real-world consequences, including at least six drug-related deaths. Such consequences were entirely foreseeable to Ulbricht, who understood that his business was fueling drug abuse and addiction.”
“Ulbricht profited greatly from his operation of Silk Road, ultimately amassing millions of dollars in commissions. He was willing to use violence to protect his enterprise, as evidenced by his solicitation of multiple murders for hire in attempts to eliminate perceived threats. At no point has he acknowledged full responsibility or shown true remorse for his actions.”
At the Conclusion of this letter to the Judge, the Government requested that “the Court impose a lengthy sentence, one substantially above the 20-year mandatory minimum, in order to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct. 18 U. S. C. section 3553(a).”
We are left to hazard a wild guess as to why Rudy Davis has included Ross Ulbricht on his “American Political Prisoners” Roster.
After I pondered in my October 12th article whether or not the prison ministry of Year of Jubile.com and the Lonestar 1776 YouTube channel exhibited the values of a genuine “King James Bible believing follower of the Lord Jesus Christ”, founder Rudy Davis responded by leaving a lengthy comment on this blog, consigning me to hell.
Although failing to address the key points in the article, Davis took issue with my characterization of his ministry as exclusively focusing on sovereign citizen “I am above the law” legal theorists. That particular phrase of mine was utilized to contrast his prison ministry’s narrow focus on domestic terrorists, to that of other Christian prison ministries that offer face-to-face Bible studies behind prison walls to all who desire to participate, without discrimination.
But since this gauntlet has been thrown down at my feet, I have decided to examine over the long haul, “those other prisoners” of Rudy Davis’, who are not expressly sovereign citizens.
In the midst of his rant-styled comment, Davis presented a long list of prisoner names, which excluded Kent Hovind, one of his most infamous, formerly incarcerated, tax protestor/sovereign citizens, as well as two of his other current sovereign citizen felons which I have written about, Mike and Pat Parsons. It will take a long while to go through every name on Rudy Davis’ list, but I have noted that the following fourteen names are listed on the seditionists.com PDF of J. J. MacNab’s Anti-Government Extremist Violence and Plots-2000 to 2018, as of March 31, 2018.
They include: Patricia Parsons (Sovereign) “plot to kidnap judge and sheriff”; Bryce Cuellar (Sovereign/Militia) “terroristic threats; Michael Emry (Sovereign/Militia) “unlawful possession of machine gun”; Greg Burleson, Gerald Delemus, and Todd Engel (Militia/Sovereign/Sagebrush) who were part of an “April 12, 2014 armed confrontation”; Schaeffer Cox, Lonnie Vernon, and Karen Vernon (Sovereign/Militia) “plot to kidnap/kill police/feds/judge”; Charles Dyer-active duty military (Oath Keeper) “theft of grenade launcher, child rape”; Ed Brown, Elaine Brown, Daniel Riley (Tax Protestor/Sovereign) “armed standoff/plot to kill officers/judge”; and David Hinkson (Sovereign) “plot to kill judges/IRS agent/AUSA”.
Ross Ulbricht’s political model was Libertarianism, but like Sovereign Citizens who engage in criminality, he shared the common denominator of considering himself to be personally beyond the law.
In records kept by Ulbricht used as evidence in his trial, he stated, “I’m running a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise.” However, after he was indicted, he painted himself as a rather naïve, young man on a misguided path. This turnabout in Ross Ulbricht, who was living a double life, was addressed by the Court.
The Hon. Katherine B. Forrest, the United States District Judge over U. S. v. Ross William Ulbricht, stated during the sentencing, as transcribed in document #277, (page 67, line 15), “It wasn’t game and you knew that. It was an enterprise the stated purpose of which–the stated purpose of which–was to flout the law, to be outside of the law, to be beyond the law. In the world that you created over time, democracy that we had set up with our founding fathers that provide for the passage of laws and the enforcement of those laws through our democratic process did not exist. It wasn’t about democracy.”
“You were captain of the ship, as the Dread Pirate Roberts, and you made your own laws and you enforced those laws in the manner that you saw fit. So it wasn’t a world without restriction. It wasn’t a world of ultimate freedom. It was a world of laws that you created, they were your laws. It is fictional to think of Silk Road as some place of freedom. It was a place with a lot of rules and if you didn’t comply with the rules you would be bumped out of Silk Road, you would have various kinds of things done to you that are all set forth in the seller’s guide, and here and there, and ultimately there were, of course, some commissioned murders for hire when people were making threats against that enterprise.”
So while Ross Ulbricht cannot be classified with the Sovereign Citizen movement, he exhibits the same amoral, arrogant attitude, of being above the law; entitled to establish his own rules, including the right to employ assassins against anyone who threatened his empire.
This dark world of criminal thinking is condemned by Christian doctrine. So what words best characterize the core ideology of Rudy Davis’ American Political prisoners, if the sovereign citizens “I am above the law” label is inadequate? The Bible stands against the hardness of the impenitent heart which results in seditions, lawlessness, murder, callous disregard for the lives of other people….etc.
Two Interesting Facets of the Ross Ulbricht criminal case
I am going to cover in two parts, the Ross Ulbricht case: today’s post will cover the life imprisonment without parole sentence on the defendant, with the second part focusing on the side story intersecting the Ross Ulbricht case, which involved two corrupt federal agents that were tried in a separate court case, for their illegal behavior undertaken while investigating the Silk Road dark web marketing scheme.
Part I: The Reasons Behind the Length of the Sentence Given Ross Ulbricht
The court transcript of the sentencing of Ross Ulbricht is contained in Document 277 (98 pages), filed 6/30/2015 in the United States District Court Southern District of New York in Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF, with Hon. Katherine B. Forrest as District Judge.
On page 53, Assistant United States Attorney, Serrin A. Turner is discussing the motives of the defendant, and adds, “He was motivated, in part, by a political agenda but that is not excuse for what he did. If he wanted to pursue a political agenda he could have done so through the political process. He was not entitled to legislate his own policies on the Internet whether it was drugs or fake I. D.s or computer hacking or guns or child pornography. You don’t get to say that I think these things should be sold without restriction and therefore I am going to do it, whatever the law says. You can’t do it on the street, you can’t do it in cyberspace. The internet is not a license to flaunt the law.”
On page 65, line 22, the Hon. Judge Forrest asks, “What sentence serves the ends of justice? I start with the nature and circumstances of the crime and we have talked about some of it already. The nature and circumstances of the crime can be summed up as a planned, comprehensive, and deliberate scheme to do that which was unlawful and something which posed serious danger to public health and to our communities.”
“I, and you all know that Silk Road was a worldwide criminal drug enterprise with a massive geographic scope. And, Mr. Ulbricht, you don’t fit the typical criminal profile…You are educated. You have two degrees; you have a physics degree, you have a master’s degree in applied materials. You have an intact family…”
On page 68, the Hon. Judge Forrest continues, “So I don’t find supportable the argument that the website was started by an impulsive or naïve young man. I give you a lot more credit than that. I don’t think you did something thoughtless, I think you did something very, very thoughtful with which I disagree entirely. I disagree with the choice that you made but I don’t think it was a choice that you made without giving it deep thought.”
“I don’t find it supportable the argument that Silk Road was an economic experiment. It was, in fact, a carefully planned life’s work. It was your opus. It may have been based on some theory or some philosophy that you held, but it was no experiment of philosophy and provides no excuse. You wanted it to be your legacy–you said that in some of the communications introduced at trial–and it is. It was a project that you had an idea for, you carefully nurtured it, you took deliberate acts to set it up over years to put your plan into motion and to perfect it and to continue to perfect it and to improve it. That was not anything impulsive. That is not the definition of impulsive. There was no experimental quality to it, it was slick, it was professional, it was built to last.
And, but for the very hard and creative work of law enforcement, it would still be going right now.”
Page 69, line 24: “All the evidence shows that you viewed Silk Road both as above the law, and the laws didn’t apply, and in this context, the fact that the laws are what distinguished us from what is uncivilized that they are the embodiment–laws are the embodiment–and they are the manifestation of our democratic process. When that gets lost, it becomes meaningless.”
“Silk Road’s birth and its presence asserted that its creator–you–and its operator–were better than the laws of this country and there are posts which discuss the laws as the oppressor and each transaction is a victory over the oppressor. This is deeply troubling and terribly misguided and also very dangerous.”
Analyzing the intent of the defendant
“Your own words I have looked at very carefully and I have reread certainly more than once in this whole process. They reveal a kind of an arrogance and they display an intent that is very important to the Court’s determination, and the Court will go through some of the chronology of putting some of your words into chronological order here now…”
Page 70, line 23: “…and you say, ‘The idea was to create a website where people could buy and sell anything anonymously with no trail whatsoever that could lead back to them.’ And that is not so much the economics of it, of an economic experiment, that is about a method of law evasion.”
Page 71, line 15: “Also in 2011, you wrote proudly that Silk Road was getting its first press from Gawker but you also wrote that two senators came out against the site. And then you said: ‘I was mentally taxed and now I felt extremely vulnerable and scared. The U. S. government, my main enemy, was aware of me and some of its members were calling for my destruction.’ And then you changed your name to Dread Pirate Roberts; you devised a cover story.”
Assassination drugs and hitmen? Ross Ulbricht personally paid $650,000 in Bitcoins to eliminate his adversaries!
Page 73, line 12: “Then, in 229C, still in May 2012, you were informed that a vendor is selling cyanide. You were told, ‘It’s only the most well known assassination suicide poison out there.” And you consider whether to allow it to be sold because you are the decision maker…”
Page 74, line 12 concerning entries in the defendant’s journal: “March 28: ‘Being blackmailed with user info. Talking with large distributor, (hell’s angels).’ Then, March 29th: ‘Commissioned hit on blackmailer with angels.’ April 1: ‘Got word that blackmailer was executed. Created file upload script.’ So, you went back to the technical work right after getting word that the blackmailer had been executed…”
Page 75, line 3: “Two days later on April 8 you write: ‘Sent payments to angel for hit on Tony76 and his three associates. Began setting up hecho as standby’–I have no idea what that is–‘refactored main and category pages to be more efficient.’ These are the words of a man who knows precisely what he is doing and they’re the words of a man who is callous as to the consequences or the harm and suffering that it may cause others.”
“You joke about an addict unable to contain his addiction because of Silk Road and you seek to kill people that you don’t even know–these are the words of a criminal and that is truth.”
“The crimes as to which you stand convicted, Mr. Ulbricht, are crimes which are intentional, they occurred over a lengthy period of time, you knew exactly what you were doing. This was not some sort of experiment, it wasn’t some sort of game. This is the general nature of Silk Road.”
Page 76, line 11: “..Silk Road also distributed drugs anywhere that the delivery service would take it worldwide–DHL, Fed Ex, USPS–bringing drugs to communities that previously may have had no access to such drugs or in such quantities. That was an assault on the public health of our communities.”
The defendant’s defense of minimizing the impact of his actions on others
Page 77, line 9: “There appears to be, in some of these articles that were presented to the Court, some view that there is a moral ambiguity about some of the drug distributions. There is no moral ambiguity about it. It was just wrong. And that is what our democratic process had said and there is a way to change the law but it is not by doing what occurred.”
“No drug dealer from the Bronx selling meth or heroin or crack has ever made these kinds of arguments to the Court. It is a privileged argument, it is an argument from privilege.”
“Let me start with the basic proposition: The impact of heroin, crack, and meth sold in the Bronx, the impact of those drugs sold in the Bronx are no better for our society than those drugs that were sold through Silk Road. When those drugs arrive, they are the same drugs. You are no better a person than any other drug dealer and your education does not give you a special place of privilege in our criminal justice system. It makes it less explicable why you did what you did.”
Violence of the defendant
Page 82, line 17: “So, let’s talk about your own violence. So, we also have your own violence and there is no doubt–really none–that you wanted to and paid for the murders of five people to protect your drug enterprise. That is not the conduct of conviction but it is relevant conduct, so how is that consistent with harm reduction?”
“The submissions by the defense experts that you folks put in say that we should ignore that because it wasn’t charged. But, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. How do you ignore that? I just really don’t understand that argument at all. It happened, it is there in black and white. Now, did the murders happen? Well, they can’t find any bodies.”
“Did you commission a murder? Five? Yes. Did you pay for it? Yes. Did you get photographs relating to what you thought was the result of that murder? Yes. So, I have read many articles about the harm reduction and it is just fantasy.”
Money laundering involving Bitcoin-based systems and forfeiture
On page 90 a forfeiture amount of $183,961,921 is discussed. On page 92, Judge Forrest states, “The Circuit has held even where a defendant does not retain money laundered property he will be subject to substitution of assets, I. e., a money judgment…money laundering allowed people on the website to exchange money that, circumstantially the inference is clear, was obtained for one purpose to exchange it into currency and cash out and launder that money.”
“So, in this case, all funds passing through Silk Road’s Bitcoin-based payment system were involved in the money laundering offense in Count Seven. The Bitcoin-based system promoted and facilitated illegal transactions on Silk Road and concealed the proceeds of those transactions. It also concealed the identities of and locations of users.”
“Page 93, line 3: “I also note that the forfeiture amount is not an ‘excessive fine’ under the Eighth Amendment but I say it sua sponte given that is over $180 million. While the amount is significant, it is no more significant than the revenue that was generated through the sales of illegal drugs and fraudulent identification documents on Silk Road and money laundering, a criminal enterprise which the defendant designed and operated.”
The Sentencing by the Hon. Katherine B. Forrest, United States District Judge
Page 94, line 16: “So, Mr. Ulbricht, would you please stand, sir? Mr. Ulbricht, it is my judgment delivered here, now on behalf of our country, that on Counts Two and Four you are sentenced to a period of life imprisonment, to run concurrently; on Count Five you are sentenced to five years’ imprisonment to run concurrently; on Count Six, you are sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment also concurrent; and for money laundering in Count Seven, you are sentenced to 20 years, also concurrent. In the federal system there is no parole and you shall serve your life in prison….”
Page 95, line 4: “There must be no doubt that lawlessness will not be tolerated. There must be no doubt that no one is above the law, no matter the education or the privileges. All stand equal before the law. There must be no doubt that you cannot run a massive criminal enterprise and because it occurred over the Internet, minimize the crime committed on that basis.…”.
Ross Ulbricht appealed this verdict in the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, docket no. 15-1815. On May 31, 2017, the Appeals Court decided, “Because we identify no reversible error, we AFFIRM Ulbricht’s conviction and sentence in all respects.”