Silk Road Creator’s Appeal for Rehearing Denied by Court

Court of Appeals title on Legal Documents
The Court of Appeals has rejected a petition for a panel or full rehearing filed by Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the Silk Road darknet marketplace.

It has been more than five years since the apprehension and subsequent court battles ensued for the founder of the infamous darknet marketplace, Silk Road.

The legal avenues for the convicted Ross Ulbricht, also known as “Dread Pirate Roberts,” seem to thin out following the results of his petition last week.

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On Wednesday, a federal appeals court denied Ulbricht a rehearing of his conviction and consequent life imprisonment sentence.

Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole back in 2015, following his arrest for creating and running the Silk Road, which was a highly popular dark web drug market before its 2013 shutdown.

He has since fought his conviction for crimes including money laundering and drug trafficking conspiracies, as well as the unduly harsh prison sentence.

Ulbricht had filed a petition for a panel or a full rehearing of the case, which was rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The petition hearing was held at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse in New York City.

It is worth noting that Ross Ulbricht had earlier this year filed an appeal for his life sentence, which was denied by the panel of the northeastern appeals court in May of 2017.

It would be safe to speculate that the reasons for the denial of the August petition are the same as the May petition.

gavel on table
Judges dismissed the arguments

In the May case, Ulbricht’s lawyers pointed out the illegal searches carried out by authorities investigating the Silk Road, as well as the involvement of corrupt federal agents in overseeing the effort leading to his harsh sentence for non-violent crimes.

The three-judge appellate panel addressed and dismissed the arguments and upheld the decision of the lower court, although they disagreed with the unexpectedly harsh sentence and American drug laws.

It is yet to be known whether the August appeal was denied on the same grounds, but it is highly likely.

The anticipated legal move for the Silk Road founder is a petition to the Supreme Court.

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Lawyer of Corrupt Silk Road Agent Withdraw from the Case

According to reports, Davina Pujari, the lawyer of Shaun Bridges, the corrupt Secret Service agent who also played a role in the Silk Road investigations, has requested that she be removed from the case as she finds his recent appeal to be frivolous.

Ms. Pujari is the third lawyer for Bridges from the start of his appeals process in December 2015.

In a recent filing to the Court of Appeals in the 9th Circuit, she noted that after a careful examination of the record and a thorough study of the case law and relevant statutes, she has come to the conclusion that only legally insignificant issues are being presented in the appeal.

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bridges copyThe former special agent from the U.S. Secret Service pleaded guilty in August 2015 to charges of obstruction of justice and money laundering in connection with the incident of stealing bitcoins when carrying out investigations into the operations of the darknet marketplace Silk Road.

Subsequently, Bridges was sentenced to serve a term of 71 months in a prison.

Currently, he is serving this sentence in the federal prison located in Terre Haute in Indiana.

He is scheduled to be released from the prison in January 2021.

However, earlier this year in the month of February, the U.S. government pointed out that Bridges are likely to be involved in more thefts from the online drug marketplace Silk Road.

In her recent filing, Ms. Pujari has also highlighted an argument, which is partly based on Curtis Green’s testimony during the sentencing hearing of Bridges in December 2015.

curtis_greenCurtis Green was an employee of the now defunct Silk Road.

In her brief, she had pointed out that Green’s testimony was a surprise inclusion and noted that the claims were made for the first time.

She added that they did not figure in the plea agreement at all.

Moreover, the accuracy of these claims was questionable.

The district court had noted that the testimony given by Green was a significant factor in the case.

Bridges’ contention in the appeal brief filed by him is that the testimony of Green was not subjected to any kind of scrutiny or cross-examination and that his testimony cannot be considered as clear and convincing evidence.

When Green spoke at the sentencing hearing of Bridges, he was not a witness under oath.

Bridges argues in his appeal brief that his plea deal, which consists of an appeal rights waiver, is not valid as Green was permitted to speak.

He has also argued in the brief that the district court has made a mistake in the calculation of the losses incurred.

Green debriefed Shaun Bridges, Carl Mark Force (a former DEA agent who is currently behind bars on corruption charges related to the same Silk Road investigation), and other Baltimore agents in January 2013.

Following the meeting in Utah, Bridges got hold of the login credentials of Green and initiated the process of locking out the accounts of the Silk Road dealers.

Bridges then looted their accounts and grabbed as much as 20,000 bitcoins.

However, the recent filing by Davina Pujari does not address the new and unsealed charges that were brought up last month by the government against Bridges.

The government strongly suspects that Bridges has stolen another $700,000 after the finalization of his plea deal.

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