Ross Ulbricht, the creator of Silk Road, was sentenced to a life in prison in the end of May 2015 on count of seven different charges. Judge Katherine Forrest handed over multiple sentences: for 5 years, 15 years, 20 years and two for life. As the charges have to be served for concurrently, Ross has to serve a lifetime in prison without any parole.
However, the convicted Silk Road head has launched an appeal to have his case heard once more. According to the US Court of Appeals (Second Circuit) in which a filing has been lodged, Ross Ulbricht’s team of lawyers’ argument was that a fair trial was not provided to him, key evidence was left out and that Ross was not the actual person who played the Dread Pirate Roberts’ role. Silk Road was an online darknet market that sold everything from drugs to stolen identities and counterfeit documents.
The Silk Road Conviction and After
Ross Ulbricht is housed in the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center and just turned 32 years old on March 27. His parents have moved to a small apartment (from Texas) nearby. It has not been an easy time for the rest of Ulbricht’s family. The situation has been grim with Ross’s mother, Lyn, suffering from health complications due to the stress that she is going through. She suffered a heart attack and is coping with a broken heart. The parents’ lives have been drained both financially and emotionally.
According to an article by Patrick Howell O’Neill, who tracked the everyday life of Ross Ulbricht, the Silk Road kingpin seems to be settling for a life in the prison. He spruced up his life by planting an apple seed in a corner of his room where there was sunlight. However, the sapling was uprooted and placed in the counselor’s office. He has started growing another one it seems. Ross’s mother believes that the life in prison is turning her son into a more humane individual. The Silk Road head is also into bringing up a mouse as a pet in a cardboard box, the prison cell has many of them running around. However, no guard has snatched it off as yet.
Ross does not speak to the media. He spends his day teaching GED to some of the inmates of the prison. He also teaches them physics. Ross is often shifted to other prisons at short or no notice and the task of tracking him down to meet him on their next visit is left to his family.
Ross’s mother, in the meanwhile, has been travelling to different libertarian gatherings and garnering support as well as funding for the Silk Road kingpin’s appeal. She speaks out on topics ranging from fair trials, sentencing laws, and Internet privacy laws, to criminal justice procedures. She believes that her son has been imprisoned because he was a political threat. This has been echoed by other alliances and groups such as Drug Policy Alliance and Electronic Frontier Foundation among others.
The US Government however believes otherwise. Contending that Silk Road darknet market sold drugs worth $80 million to its customers, the government believes that the Silk Road founder is responsible for the drug overdose deaths of six other individuals. Ulbricht’s sentence brought to the fore the fact that he was just another drug dealer and racketeer who sought to hide his identity from the authorities and no one is above the law. In this context, it is also interesting to note that many of the alleged nefarious crimes against Ross were never proved in court. Many observers also feel that the sentence has been a heavy one and issued too quickly with basic lack of understanding. As for now, the Silk Road founder would have to spend his days in prison while his family has raised about $433,000 for his legal defense.