Ross Ulbricht, Founder of the SILK ROAD Dark Web Marketplace: Part II – His Shadowy, Corrupt Counterparts in the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force

Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place.  Job 36:20

Rudy Davis has listed Ross Ulbricht, the founder and operator of the Silk Road  narcotics and illegal goods website as one of his prison pen pals on his yearofjubile.com website. On Davis’ companion YouTube channel, Lonestar1776, I searched for Ulbricht’s name.  Out of 10,000 uploads, only one video was tagged and that was a July 27, 2016 Shaeffer Cox video where Rudy Davis spends an hour and a half reading a letter. I have no idea why Ulbricht’s name is tagged with this video, except perhaps for the warning image shown below.

In this video, Rudy Davis reads a letter from Shaeffer Cox on his sentencing memo. There does not appear to be any relationship to this video and Ross Ulbricht except perhaps the image posted.

The source of this image is identified as Exposing the Ugly Ugly Judge.com, a domain that has never been registered.

In Part I on Ross Ulbricht, Founder of the SILK ROAD Dark Web Marketplace, I focused on his sentencing, and I provided a link to the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit decision of May 31, 2017 which provided an exhaustive analysis of every point which the defense wanted re-examined.

Of interest in the Appeals document is the discussion of whether or not the actions of two corrupt government agents in the Baltimore Task Force- Silk Road investigation had any impact on the fairness of the Ulbricht trial.

Prior to addressing all of the defense’s arguments, the Appeals decision stated, “At the same time, the venality of individual agents does not necessarily affect the reliability of the government’s evidence in a particular case or become relevant to the adjudication of every case in which the agents participated.  Courts are obligated to ensure the probative evidence is disclosed to the defense, carefully evaluated by the court for the materiality to the case, and submitted for the jury’s consideration where admissible.  But courts must also take care that wrongdoing by investigators that has no bearing on the matter before the court not be used as a diversion from fairly assessing the prosecution’s case.  Like any other potential evidence, information about police corruption must be evaluated by reference to the ordinary rules of criminal procedure and evidence, a task to which we now turn.”

There were two Task Forces which were intensely investigating the Silk Road; one in New York and the other in Baltimore.  In conjunction with law enforcement agents from the Department of Homeland Security, the I. R. S., and the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, DEA Special Agent Carl Mark Force IV conducted the primary undercover communications with Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) AKA Ross Ulbricht, whereas Secret Service Special Agent Shaun W. Bridges served as the specialist in computer forensics and anonymity software derived from TOR. The Ulbricht case was tried in the Southern District of New York federal criminal court, and it was the New York task force that became responsible for ensuring that the Silk Road case was not contaminated by any of the actions of the two corrupt Baltimore task force agents.

As noted in Footnote 6 in the Appeals document, the end result of the criminal investigation into the two agents resulted in both Force and Bridges pleading “guilty to money laundering and obstruction of justice; Force also pleaded guilty to extortion.  Force was sentenced to 78 months in prison, and Bridges received a 71-month sentence.”

TOR (The Onion Router) 

The Silk Road enterprise took place in that dark, nether world of the internet which is accessed using the TOR browser. Chris Skinner, an independent commenter on the financial markets, stated in a July  2015 article on thefinanser.comHow to Crack Anonymous:  The Silk Road Story, that “TOR –  The Onion Router –  was developed by the U. S. Navy in the 1990’s with the aim of protecting U. S. Intelligence communications online.  After its release and subsequent enhancements since 2002, it’s become the preferred network for drugs, fraud, and other illicit activities, as it allows users to browse the web almost completely anonymously. TOR achieves this by directing internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer network consisting of more than six thousand relays to conceal a user’s location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis.”

Skinner also notes that the Silk Road story is a fascinating one because it “demonstrates the libertarian versus statist stand-off”.  He explains, “The libertarian versus statist movement is a very active one and, again for those who have not encountered it, is led by many bitcoin activists.  The bitcoin activists claim they have invented money without government, and believe that society should be free to operate as they want. If people want to exchange drugs, paedophilia or organize terrorist activities, that is a lifestyle choice and they should be allowed to do just that.  The view being that if these activities are viewed by the collective as inappropriate, then the collective will shut it down rather than the government.”

While TOR is known for providing anonymity, when it comes to anonymous commercial transactions, these activities are subject to exposure for various reasons once they leave the dark web and enter into the every-day reality of delivery systems and financial exchanges involving bitcoins and U. S. dollars.  In fact, the government’s investigation into Ulbricht’s activities was triggered by the discovery of a package of illegal drugs being delivered via the mail system.

The foundation for regulating behavior is not just having a “collective standard”, but there must be the authority and power to enforce those rules of conduct.

In the situation involving the exposure of the two corrupt government agents, unfortunately it was not internal procedural or  supervisory controls within the Baltimore Task Force that identified the corruption within their ranks.  Rather,  it was Bitstamp, the crypto exchange, that was the source of their undoing.  This reality collides with the bitcoin activists’ argument that the Collective ought to be the regulating force rather than the  Government. It took both a participant in the so called Collective and the Government’s resources and authority to deal with all of the wrongdoers associated with Silk Road.

It needs to be remembered that when Ross Ulbricht discovered persons in his midst that threatened exposure of his wrongdoing, he paid enormous sums using  bitcoins, to hire anonymous assassins to track down the real identities of his enemies, so that they could be murdered. In his world, Ulbricht was the sole dictator who had the authority and power to execute his own version of “justice”.  The U. S. Government, despite corrupt agents within, still displays the capability of bringing to justice wrongdoers in accordance with rules of evidence which favors the discovery of truth, while protecting the fragile rights of both the public and individuals.

While initially it was Bitstamp who found the activities of Force to be suspicious,  subsequent interviews of Shaun Bridges were pursued when the government observed  that he was making “inaccurate statements”. On March 18, 2015, Bridges resigned after being told he was suspended.

The Affidavit underlying the arrest warrant for Force and Bridges

The Affidavit provided by Special Agent (IRS) Tigran Gambaryan on March 25, 2015 in support of the criminal complaint against Force and Bridges (150325 – Charges Against Former Federal Agents in Silk Road), noted that “On April 29, 2014, Bitstamp’s General Counsel advised BRIDGES by telephone from the Northern District of California that Bitstamp suspected FORCE of wrongdoing and intended to formally bring it to the attention of law enforcement via a Bank Secrecy Act filing.  Bitstamp did so on May 1, 2014.  By May 4, 2014, FORCE submitted a letter of resignation after 15 years of service to be effective later that month.”

Gambaryan continues, “On approximately May 2, 2014 the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California opened an official investigation into FORCE concerning his activities with his Bitstamp account and bitcoin holdings.  On approximately May 4, 2014, the Public Integrity Section opened an official investigation into FORCE concerning his improper use of a subpoena to Venmo.  On May 8, 2014, the Northern District of California and Public Integrity investigations were merged.”

The U. S. Sentencing Memo on Bridges

At this point, I am going to focus on the United States’ Sentencing Memorandum in the criminal case United States of America v. Shaun W. Bridges (A/K/A “Number 13”), dated December 7, 2015. The United States Attorneys argued against a downward departure or a variance in this case from the applicable sentencing guidelines. The defendant Bridges had pleaded guilty to money laundering and obstruction of justice.  The Probation Department had applied a 2-level enhancement for sophisticated means, and the sentencing guidelines for Bridges’ offenses ranged from 57 to 71 months. (all bolding in the following excerpts is mine.)

The United States Attorney’s Office stated on page 2, “By his egregious conduct and flagrant abuse of his authority as a sworn law enforcement officer, Shaun Bridges has shown that he is not someone who deserves a sentence at or below the low-end of the Guidelines range.  Rather, Shaun Bridges is someone who abused the public trust and tarnished the reputation of law enforcement in the process.  For those reasons and others discussed below, the United States seeks a high-end Guidelines sentence of 71 months’ imprisonment-the same sentence recommended by the Probation Department.”

It was further noted by the AUSA that the defendant had objected to the application of the sophisticated means enhancement; however, it was explained that the money laundering offense involved the sophisticated means of “conduct such as hiding assets or transactions, or both, through the use of fictitious entities, corporate shells, or offshore financial accounts…”.

On page 3, it was explained that “Bridges stole bitcoins from various Silk Road accounts using the log-in credentials from one of the website’s customer support representatives- a target whom they had arrested- and transferred the bitcoins to Mt. Gox, an offshore bitcoin exchange company in Japan.  Over several months, Bridges then made nine separate wire transfers – all under $100,000 each – totaling $822,851.19 from the offshore exchange to a Fidelity account in the name of Quantum International Investments, LLC (“Quantum”), a shell corporation Bridges created in the United States…The sole and exclusive purpose of this LLC was to receive and hide those criminal proceeds…further, as the PSR notes, bitcoin is a sophisticated technology/currency.”

On page 6 of the Sentencing Memorandum, special notice and condemnation is given for Bridge’s handling of a cooperator in this case, stating,  “In addition, the government believes that defendant Bridges’ sentence should be severe given his treatment of the cooperator, GC, in this case. Bridges did not simply steal from Silk Road, he stole from Silk Road and the operator of Silk Road–whom Bridges knew by his online moniker, “Dread Pirate Roberts”–through the administrator account of CG.  Of course, Ulbricht and a Silk Road administrator believed that CG had stolen from them since they were unaware that CG was cooperating and had given Bridges access to his account.”

Being a wealthy and dangerous operator of a narcotics trafficking site, Ulbricht responded in a predictable way to the perceived thefts by CG – he looked for associates to murder CG.  Bridges was aware that Ulbricht wanted to murder CG almost immediately because Bridges assisted Force and other agents in faking CG’s death.  Bridges did nothing to prevent Ulbricht’s belief – and the belief of the other agents and the AUSAs- that CG was the actual thief.  The AUSAs announced that they would not provide CG with a 5K recommendation due to their belief that he had stolen from Silk Road while promising to be a cooperator.  CG protested, but the agents and AUSAs did not believe that one of their own could have been responsible for the theft and did not believe him.  That Ulbricht contracted Force’s UCE legend of Nob to murder CG was fortuitous because Nob could obviously control his part of the situation by not murdering CG but letting Ulbricht believe that CG had been murdered by Nob.  But Bridges did not know that would be the result.”

“In addition, law enforcement is aware that Ulbricht did not limit his solicitation to murder CG to Force/Nob.  Ulbricht actively contacted other Silk Road users that Ulbricht believed could murder CG.  That was an eventuality that Bridges, of course, foresaw.  The solution for the agents was to order CG not to leave his house until Ulbricht was apprehended almost a year later.  CG was confined to his home in fear for his safety day after day. Had the New York-based investigation not located and arrested Ulbricht when it did, CG could have been left to the equivalent of house arrest up to this very day.’

“This type of abuse of a cooperator is absolutely unforgivable. Bridges allowed his greed and deception to endanger the life of a man who was actively striving to assist the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force with its investigation….This type of abuse of a vulnerable cooperator strikes a powerful chord with prosecutors and law enforcement who rely on these types of relationships to solve crimes.  This type of abuse cannot be taken lightly by federal law enforcement or the Court.  Bridges should be sentenced on the basis of his abuse of CG along with his fraudulent and deceitful conduct.”

The rest of the 12 page United States’ Sentencing Memorandum on Shaun Bridges continues to describe the egregious conduct of this former Secret Services Special Agent, who presently sits in prison as punishment for his offences.

The deeper the darkness of Anonymity on the Internet, the more egregious are the crimes which materialize, undermining the safety and protections necessary to maintain a free society.

The illegal activities conducted by Ross Ulbricht done under the cover of the anonymity provided by the dark web browser, TOR, not only included the distribution of dangerous controlled substances, such as heroin or the assassin’s poison cyanide.  But as the Appeals Court decision (footnote 66) describes, he also sold “illegal goods such as counterfeit identification documents and computer hacking tools and services…The specific computer hacking tools available included software for compromising usernames and passwords of electronic accounts, including email and Facebook; Remote Access Tools (“RATS”) that allow hackers to obtain remote access to a victim’s computer, including turning on and using the computer’s webcam; keyloggers, which allow a user to monitor keystrokes inputted by a victim to discern their passwords and other sensitive information; and  Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) tools, which allow hackers to disable websites by flooding networks with malicious Internet traffic.  Silk Road also offered money laundering services through vendors who sold U. S. currency and anonymous debit cards…”.

It is time for internet broadcasts and writings, especially those done in the name of Christ, to provide documentation to back up their conclusions.  Because of the continuous streaming of  false and defamatory conclusions on the internet,  we are in danger of losing the freedom of speech and press privileges which we currently enjoy, if stringent measures are put into place to correct this situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ross Ulbricht, Founder of the SILK ROAD Dark Web Marketplace: Part I – The Reasons for the Lifetime Prison Sentence

“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.

To their credit, yearofjubile.com warns those who might want to be pen pals with their featured prisoners, that “many are just looking to con kind-hearted people from their money”.

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.

Ross Ulbricht: He has a degree in Physics and a Masters in Applied Materials; yet he chose to found a dark web worldwide criminal drug enterprise, earning him a life sentence in prison, without parole

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 lawThere 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.”