The Catch-22 Predicament Of The Alleged Silk Road Mastermind

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US District Judge Katherine Forrest has declined to suppress the evidence the government is using against Ross William Ulbricht, the alleged Silkroad mastermind. This paves way for a federal trial that is set for 3rd November, 2014 in connection to the Silkroad website that once sold hacking tools and illicit drugs.

Ross UlbrichtThe judge’s decision sidestepped the contentious issue of whether the federal prosecutors violated Ross Ulbricht’s constitutional rights of unlawful search and seizure. According to Ross Ulbricht’s defense team, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) or even the NSA (National Security Agency) in some way managed to unlawfully gain access to the Silkroad severs in Iceland, this led to several search warrants of social networking and e-mail accounts the U.S government said belong to Ross Ulbricht.

The New York judge stated that it does not matter whether the U.S government unlawfully gained access to the Silkroad severs. This is because she ruled that Ross Ulbricht does not have a right to challenge the seizure of the Silkroad servers that eventually led to his arrest last year.

She ruled that whatever methods the government used to gain access to the evidence against Ross Ulbricht are beyond the purview of the court.

She said that as a result of Ross Ulbricht denying any connection to the Silkroad servers and having not demonstrated any association to them, he does not have a right to challenge the methods used by the government to seize the Silkroad servers. She added that Ulbricht would have been able to challenge the search if he had claimed to have a connection to the Silkroad servers. The government said that they did not need a warrant because the Silkroad servers were overseas.

CourtThe judge wrote that the requirement to establish a personal privacy interest may appear to place Ross Ulbricht in a catch-22: if the U.S government must substantiate any connection between him and Silkroad, asking him to admit such a connection to establish his standing, the seizures and searches in question could be deemed unfair. But as Ross Ulbricht surely knows, this isn’t the first court, nor is he the first defendant, to bring up such an issue.

She did, however, note that the sworn statement of a defendant in support of a motion to suppress PDF evidence generally cannot be used against him at trial. She said that this doesn’t insulate Ross Ulbricht from all risk. If he decided to take the witness stand to defend himself, his statement may nevertheless be used to impeach him.

Ross William Ulbricht is charged with 7 separate crimes that are related to the design, creation, administration, and operations of Silkroad. He is accused of facilitating anonymous transactions of hacking tools, narcotics and fake identification documents.

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Fresh Set Of Charges Laid Against Ross Ulbricht

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Ross UlbrichtA verdict has been determined on Ross Ulbricht’s case. He will be facing life in prison as a result of his alleged operations on the internet drug lair called Silk Road, which is where both sellers and buyers were able to send soft and hard drugs across the globe. His initial indictment happened back in February of this year with four criminal charges including, criminal and money hacking conspiracy, drug trafficking, each of which he profusely continues to deny. On Friday the 22nd of August, he faced three new charges as the Silkroad Kingpin, including identity fraud and narcotics trafficking.

The US Government laid in a 17-page amended document introducing one count each for every narcotics distribution and trafficking through the virtual facet and his fraudulent act of providing false identification documents. His attorney Joshua Dratel, however, told CoinDesk how the new charges did not in any way modify the nature of evidence. According to the new seconding indictment, the drug charges happen to be in connection with at least a kilogram of heroin, 10 grams of LSD, 500 grams of meth and 5 kilograms of cocaine sold through Silk Road.

BitcoinSince his October 2013 arrest, the FBI has seized over $33.6 million worth of Bitcoins from Ulbricht. The FBI claimed this amount of Bitcoins to have been proceeds stemming from the Silk Road operation. Early this month, Ulbricht argued in a memo that he was originally plotting on a portal called Underground Brokers, where people could buy and sell almost about anything anonymously. He claimed that he did not purposely create Silk Road for drug trafficking.

The indicted also called out the intrusion of the US authorities in trampling every bit of his digital privacy rights. Furthermore, the initial report on his drug trafficking operations triggered an ongoing investigation to every depth of his ESI (electronically stored information). It gave the authorities enough discretion to follow through the investigation.

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Ross Ulbricht’s Family Create Legal Defence Fund

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Ross UlbrichtFamily and friends of the alleged Silk Road developer Ross Ulbricht have set a fundraising campaign in motion to collect money for his legal defense. Ulbricht was arrested late 2013. The US government accused him of being an online entity known as Dread Pirate Roberts who is alleged to be behind the former online drug mega store Silk Road. He was charged in a New York court of a number of conspiracies including money laundering and illegal drug trafficking. Mr. Ulbricht also faces charges of conspiracy to allegedly commit murder in Maryland. Authorities there claim he colluded with an undercover operative to have Silkroad’s former executive murdered.

Ross UlbrichtMr. Ulbricht’s trial is set to begin late this year in November and his family had hoped the site will help them raise about $250,000 to cater for his legal defense. Earlier on when Ross was first arrested, his friends had pledged to raise some $1,000,000 to secure his pre-trial release. The site, FreeRoss.com has so far closed in on the target with over $180,000 of the target amount raised. One of Ross’s friends, a rich and influential bit coin entrepreneur Roger Ver offered a $10 match up for every tweet done in creating awareness about the alleged Silkroad owner’s legal situation. His campaign elicited more than 16,000 tweets translating to over $160,000.

Through this campaign, the alleged Silk Road owner’s family is hoping to also inform the whole public about the legal implications of this case alongside raising money. They believe if Mr. Ulbricht is successfully convicted then the entire public can as well forget about Internet freedom going into the future. They also think that user privacy and regulations guarding crypto currency like bit coins are at stake should the government have its way. People willing help get the word out, learn the latest developments about the campaign or follow Mr. Ulbricht’s litigation can do so by visiting FreeRoss.org. Those seeking to contribute can visit the link http://freeross.org/donate-now-2/

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The Silk Road Original Creator Latest Legal Proceedings

Ross William Ulbricht was the brains behind a billion-dollar criminal enterprise on The Silk Road site where the buyers used Bitcoins to buy and sell drugs. He of course pled not guilty in a Manhattan Federal Court despite the evidence against him which includes several computer servers. He was however, indicted on four counts, which are operating a narcotics trafficking scheme, computer hacking, money laundering and being the mastermind behind a large criminal enterprise. The Silk Road site was a proven booming black-market bazaar that drug dealers used to distribute illegal drugs and launder millions of dollars in illegal transactions. Ulbricht specifically designed the site to use the Bitcoin-based system of payment in order to effectively conceal the identities and the locations of the active users.

Bitcoin Is not Currency

Bitcoin

This is why he defends himself of the charges of money laundering by stating that only virtual currency was used in all Silk Road transactions and that no real money was used. Bitcoin which was used in the transactions isn’t real money. His lawyer was also quick to point out the ruling by IRS, which stated that Bitcoins are simply property and not currency. Joshua Dratel his lawyer, also stated in writing that Bitcoins which were the only means of payment on the site don’t qualify as “monetary instruments” and therefore can never substantiate the money laundering violation charges.

FBI Claims

This Hidden site Has Been Seized

The FBI claimed that Ulbricht made use of Bitcoins in the site in order to camouflage drug related transactions, murder-for-hire plots and other criminal services. However, Dratel the lawyer dismisses the claims by stating that Ulbricht shouldn’t be liable for any criminal deals carried out by the online customers on the site whether he operated the site or not since he didn’t sell anything himself. He further backs up his defense by saying that no landlord has ever been prosecuted for renting his property to a drug kingpin. Or that no internet service provider has ever faced charges for the use of the service by criminals to carry out online criminal activities. That is how Ulbricht’s lawyer tries to get the case dismissed.

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