Murder-For-Hire Indictment Against Silk Road Founder to Be Dismissed

The Free Ross movement has been working tirelessly over the past few years to overturn the life sentencing of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht.

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Indictment Law Concept 3D Illustration
The murder-for-hire charge that possibly decided the case against Ross Ulbricht years ago has been officially dismissed.

Despite being dealt a fatal blow in recent years, the movement celebrated a bittersweet victory last week after the prosecution filed a motion to drop the final murder-for-hire charge against Ulbricht.

Ulbricht was initially slapped with six murder-for-hire charges, five of which never made it to court. The sixth charge involved his former partner and has now been dismissed with prejudice, giving the 34-year-old a sliver of hope to hang on to as he serves out his life sentence at the USP Florence Maximum Security Prison in Colorado.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert Hur filed the motion last week and later stated that the decision to drop the murder-for-hire charges was based on a need to reallocate resources to cases that needed them.

Ulbricht’s Story & the Movement to Free Him

Although Ulbricht was arrested and imprisoned for running the darknet-based marketplace Silk Road, he was put behind bars over charges of money laundering, conspiracy to traffic narcotics, hacking and conspiracy to commit murder.

At the time, the last charge was described as “the procurement of murder” as Ulbricht faced the consequences of a fake hit on a former Silk Road site administrator, Curtis Green.

Following the dismissal of the final murder-for-hire charge, it is evident that the prosecutor did not believe any of the six charges were valid.

The official dismissal of this damaging charge has given Ross Ulbricht’s mother, Lyn Ulbricht, a reason to hope—although not even the movement has been able to pry Ulbricht away from his life sentence.

Ulbricht’s Future

A gavel on an american flag with a gun and bullets in the background, focus on the gavel.
Despite being dealt a fatal blow in recent years, the movement celebrated a bittersweet victory last week after the prosecution filed a motion to drop the final murder-for-hire charge against Ulbricht.

Mixed reactions followed the announcement of the charge dismissal as joyous supporters realized that Ulbricht may still very well spend his life in prison.

Following his failed appeal to the Supreme Court in June, Ulbricht was effectively denied the chance to overturn the ruling dished out by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York over three years ago.

The six charges played a massive part in convincing the jury to rule against Ulbricht even though none of them had been proven in court.

Their dismissal now could be interpreted as the federal government surrendering its ace card because there is no longer the looming threat of Ulbricht walking free.

Indeed, many believe that Ulbricht’s sentencing was a deliberately excessive penalty by the federal government, judging by the extreme sentence that was doled out.

Indeed, previous reevaluations of the case have all produced the same answer: the life sentence handed to Ulbricht for forming and running the Silk Road was too heavy-handed a punishment.

Still, despite the bleakness of the situation, belief is firm among his supporters that the quest to free Ulbricht will ultimately be answered.

Although the judicial system can do nothing to reinstate the freedom of the man formerly known as Dread Pirate Roberts, hopes of a presidential pardon are what the movement is banking on to get the iconic darknet market founder into the free world.

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Silk Road Suspect Loses Extradition Appeal

Gary Davis, an Irishman accused of expediting the operation of Silk Road, was apprehended after the Supreme Court cleared the way for his extradition to the United States.

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He will face multiple conspiracy charges of narcotics distribution, potentially receiving a lifetime imprisonment sentence in the U.S.

Additionally, he also faces accusations of conspiracy to commit money laundering and computer hacking.

U.S. Marshalls Extradition Order

U.S Marshall police badge
Ireland’s Supreme Court denies the extradition appeal of an alleged Silk Road associate facing money laundering, hacking and drug charges in the US.

Davis, 29 years old, reportedly remained still even after his appeal was rejected in Ireland, although his family members looked visibly upset. U.S. Marshalls arrived in Dublin to escort Davis to New York, where he will remain behind bars at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre awaiting trial at an undetermined date.

The Supreme Court, after hearing representations from Davis’ legal team, agreed to establish a 48-hour stay within his surrender to allow consideration for any appeal avenues to the European Human Rights Court.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation filed an indictment in December 2013 purported that the suspect was an employee of Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, and operated under the pseudonym “Libertas.”

Ulbricht, who is currently serving a life sentence without parole in the U.S., is understood to have amassed $18 million worth of profit through levies on the projected $1.2 billion the website made in the illegal drug trade.

Silk Road has often been cited as the Amazon of black market websites, the first of its kind. It organized multiple products into categories and purchasers could rate sellers to outline drug quality as well as delivery speed.

However, since the FBI closed it, after extensive and elaborate investigation, the site became the prototype for the ever-growing network of darknet markets that took its place.

Details of Davis’ Case

A series of payments on Ulbricht’s laptop indicated that Libertas received $1,500 in Bitcoin each week for sorting out queries from vendors as well as organizing drugs into categories for sale.

Davis was arraigned in court in January 2014 and opposed his extradition, claiming that he suffers from Asperger’s syndrome and would therefore not receive proper care during his wait for trial.

Last year in March, he also had another appeal against his extradition dismissed by the Irish Court of Appeal. The court then moved to allow him to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.

Justice William McKechnie, who was presiding over a bench of five judges, outlined that although Ireland was obliged to safeguard individuals from neglect if surrendered overseas, the court was not satisfied that in his case, there was no real risk.

Further, Justice McKechnie also outlined that Davis was unable to establish a fault of law in both rulings as made by the Court of Appeal and the High Court.

Word APPEAL composed of wooden letters. Statue of Themis and judge's gavel in the background
He will face multiple conspiracy charges of narcotics distribution, potentially receiving a lifetime imprisonment sentence in the U.S.

Therefore, there were no grounds for the court to refuse his extradition. This means that Davis has now exhausted all his appeals in Ireland and his only chance of blocking the extradition is for his case to go to the European Court of Human Rights.

Davis is yet to outline how he plans to plead once in New York.

While in the High Court, he stated to one doctor that he was a case of mistaken identity and he was unsure of how a copy of his passport found its way into Ulbricht’s computer.

Throughout the four years of his case, the State is yet to accept the medical evidence claiming that Davis’ condition was too adverse to allow him to face trial in the U.S.

In the initial High Court hearing back in 2015, it was posited that Davis did not have Asperger’s condition until after he was initially arrested.

According to Remy Farrell, a representative of the Attorney General of Ireland, the defense argument citing Davis’ condition was only brought on under the circumstances of the extradition case.

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Ross Ulbricht’s Appeal Denied by the U.S. Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court officially announced that it has no intention of reconsidering the life sentence or conviction of Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, a notorious darknet site.

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Justice Scale And Wooden Brown Gavel On Usa Flag
The Supreme Court has denied the appeal by Silk Road’s Ross Ulbricht review his sentence, meaning the 34-year-old will spend his lifetime behind bars.

Ulbricht was initially arrested in October 2013 in San Francisco. During the trial, the prosecutors outlined that at that moment, Ulbricht was conversing with undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agents while operating the darknet site under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts.”

Authorities collected evidence from his computer which included chat logs, spreadsheets and journal entries relating to the financial data of Silk Road between 2011 and 2013.

However, the suspect’s defense team maintained that Ulbricht was not the person the prosecution was after.

In their defense, they argued that although Ulbricht was the creator of the famed site, he, however, established it as an “economic experiment” and later handed it out to another party.

The defense team further outlined that the real criminal was on the loose and that Ulbricht was just a scapegoat.

Despite the valiant efforts by the defense team, the Jury was ultimately not convinced. The court found him guilty on multiple charges including operating a criminal enterprise, money laundering, computer hacking, and narcotics-trafficking conspiracy. He was handed a sentence of lifetime imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Ulbricht’s counsel subsequently filed an appeal of this life sentence, although it was unfortunately rejected in 2017.

Again, Ulbricht made another attempt last December before the U.S. Supreme Court alleging a violation of both his sixth and fourth amendment rights.

In that plea, Ulbricht argued that the authorities had gathered internet traffic data devoid of warrants during the time of the investigations.

Moreover, he also stated that the presiding judge at the time had also enforced an irrational sentence based partly on the claims that Ross had allegedly attempted to hire a hitman—an offense for which he was never charged or convicted of.

Ulbricht’s latest attempt to bring back his case back to the Court had received a lot of support from various organizations including the Reason Foundation, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Gun Owners of America.

On hearing the recently concluded case that involved location data obtained and stored by phone providers, the same Supreme Court made a ruling that the fourth amendment offers individuals “genuine belief of privacy,” particularly regarding their personal data even if they offer it voluntarily to third parties.

This ruling had many of Ulbricht’s supporters convinced that the Supreme Court would at least be willing to somehow consider Ross’s version of the story, although it seems that this optimism has been conclusively dashed and the initial life imprisonment sentence is still on.

Ongoing Crackdowns

justice and law concept.Male judge in a courtroom striking the gavel -us supreme court2
Ulbricht was initially arrested in October 2013 in San Francisco.

The Silk Road saga is still ongoing. In fact, Roger Clark, the alleged right-hand man to Ulbricht, has been extradited from Thailand and is expected to face a federal court back in the U.S. for his alleged involvement in the market.

Additionally, the fight against darknet markets is still ongoing on other fronts. Just recently the Department of Justice, in the first-ever nationwide undercover operation targeting darknet suspects, arrested 35 vendors and subsequently seized $20 million worth of digital currency.

What’s more, they also collected $3.6 million in gold bars and dollars, firearms and significant amounts of illegal narcotics.

Federal authorities remain relentless with Homeland Security Investigations emphasizing that no criminal is out of reach of the law.

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Silk Road’s Variety Jones Extradited to U.S.

Two and a half years after his arrest, one of Silk Road’s suspected associates has been extradited to the United States for an upcoming trial in a federal court.

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investigation of crimes. evidence at the crime scene. drugs. drugs in cars
Authorities extradited Roger Thomas Clark, aka “Variety Jones,” to the U.S. where he will stand trial for his alleged role in helping run Silk Road.

Roger Thomas Clark, otherwise known as Variety Jones, VJ, Cimon and “plural of mongoose,” was first arrested in Thailand in 2015 following a joint operation which saw the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and local authorities in Thailand working together on the investigation.

Clark is famously regarded as the right-hand man of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht and is believed to have been involved with and/or influenced several of Ulbricht’s illicit dealings.

According to a statement from the Department of Justice, the 56-year-old Canadian could spend a minimum of 10 years in jail and a maximum of life imprisonment for charges related to money laundering and narcotics trafficking.

Clark’s Influence on Ross Ulbricht

Ulbricht first met Clark on the now-defunct site, and as he wrote, he found him to be a strong-willed character suitable enough to be a mentor for himself.

Clark’s role in running the operation was significant. According to federal prosecutors, he was paid in the hundreds of thousands to aid Ulbricht in running the illegal operation.

His influence on the young founder was significant, so much so that he had a hand in many of the illegal activities Ulbricht is serving life imprisonment for.

It is said that Clark provided advice on how to grow profits and, chillingly, how to get rid of obstacles using threats and violence.

He is also responsible for coining the rather clever screen name “Dread Pirate Roberts” which led people to think that the Silk Road administration comprised of a group of individuals rather than a single admin.

Radio Silence

After Silk Road was brought down in 2013, Clark’s presence on the dark web dwindled considerably; that is until he posted on a cannabis forum using the moniker Variety Jones.

In his post, he described how he had been hunted down by a crooked federal agent who had been asking for his assistance in finding the key to a virtual wallet containing over a million dollars’ worth of Bitcoin left over from the Silk Road era.

During this time, he even contemplated turning himself in for his safety, he said. An apparent cannabis connoisseur, Clark is recorded to have posted extensively on Silk Road forums about his 2,500 strains of marijuana seeds stashed in his vault.

This led to the officials making the connection between him and an infamous marijuana seed vendor based in the U.K. Over 300 posts written under his Variety Jones screen name attested to his dealings in cannabis.

FBI agents, after investigations, have denied the involvement of any corrupt officers in Clark’s case. A lack of supporting evidence ultimately relegated Clark’s story to the rumor column.

Clark’s Involvement with an Attempted Murder

3D illustration of "MURDER ATTEMPT" title on the ground in a police arena
Clark is famously regarded as the right-hand man of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht and is believed to have been involved with and/or influenced several of Ulbricht’s illicit dealings.

Over the short lifespan of the operation, Clark is believed to have had a say in several of the actions executed by the Silk Road founder.

To evade arrest and prosecution, Clark proposed that Ulbricht should attain citizenship outside of the U.S. to better shield himself from law enforcement.

Although he proposed the Dominican Republic, Ulbricht never got around to doing it.

Clark was even prepared with a contingency plan for Ulbricht should he have found himself behind bars at some point (which, ultimately, he did).

He strongly advised him to invest in a helicopter transport agency, saying that one or two of the helicopters would have come in handy when busting him out of jail.

But it was his nudging of Ulbricht to commit murder that gradually turned the tables on the entire operation.

Ulbricht, like many times before, had sought Clark’s advice when he learned that one of his employees, Curtis Green, had been dipping into a Bitcoin wallet without his knowledge.

In response, Clark offered to hire the services of a hitman to help take care of his problem.

Ultimately, the hit order came through one of their undercover agents, who promptly faked the murder and sent pictures to the duped duo. The rest, as they say, is history.

Clark has now been extradited to the U.S. where he is awaiting trial. Ulbricht’s mentor, confidant, employee, business partner, get-out-of-jail card and alleged partner in crime, could soon face up to 30 years in prison for his involvement in the infamous fallen darknet marketplace.

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Silk Road Drug Dealers Jailed for Total of 56 Years

Five former Manchester University students were handed a cumulative sentence of 56 years by Manchester Crown Court Judge Michael Leeming for selling over $1.2 million USD worth of drugs on the now-defunct Silk Road.

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Wooden Judges Gavel with Soundboard and Medical Injection Syringe on Grunge Wooden Table
Five London men will be serving a cumulative total of 56 years in prison for selling a large amount of drugs over Silk Road.

Basil Assaf, 26, was charged as the ringleader of the group and received a 15-year sentence while his right-hand man, 25-year-old James Roden, was slapped with 12 years in prison.

Jaikishen Patel and Elliott Hyams, both 26, were charged as heavily involved members of the group and were each handed 11-year sentences by Judge Leeming.

Additionally, 28-year-old Joshua Morgan was handed a much shorter sentence than the rest. He was known as the packer and the transporter of drugs in the group.

Silk Road Dealings

As is indicated in a press release from the U.K. National Crime Agency, the five London residents made a fortune selling drugs over the dark web from the beginning of Silk Road up until its ultimate demise in 2013.

It is estimated that the group sold 1.4kg of ketamine, the liquid equivalent of 240,000 ecstasy pills, and 1.2kg of 2CB, netting $1.14 million USD in the process.

Such profit margins from Silk Road allowed the five to spend money freely and it is said that they frequently vacationed in Jamaica, Amsterdam and the Bahamas.

One member is said to have paid off all his student loans and bought a house using his cut of the profits.

About the Group

Drug bust arrest with handcuffs, fingerprint ID, and fake sample evidence.
Basil Assaf, 26, was charged as the ringleader of the group and received a 15-year sentence while his right-hand man, 25-year-old James Roden, was slapped with 12 years in prison.

Eventually, as is bound to happen when there is a lot of money passing through a few hands, fighting broke out within the ranks of the group.

Assaf accused Hyams of unreliability and sacked him. Hyams, bitter from the confrontation, is said to have stolen a large amount of drugs from the group in retaliation.

The two then got into a heated text exchange which led to Assaf disclosing the nature of their business to Hyams’ mother.

Not long had passed after their rift when the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation raided and seized Silk Road servers.

Their information was forwarded to the NCA, and officers reacted quickly to raid the group’s headquarters, which was a shared flat.

Approximately 11,000 doses of LSD, four sets of scales, jiffy bags, envelopes and heat sealing devices were found.

Assaf and his flatmate Roden were arrested that same day, as was Hyams. Patel was arrested a year later.

In a public statement, NCA Senior Operations Manager Ian Glover commended the FBI for taking down Silk Road and providing them with the tools necessary to make the arrests.

According to him, the cover of anonymity is what makes dark web criminals think that they are safe from the law.

The Silk Road case remains a pivotal landmark for both these dark web users and law enforcement since it was the first dark web marketplace in existence and the first to be seized and taken down by the FBI.

It might be a long time before newer cases involving the now-closed Silk Road marketplace are finally settled.

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Silk Road Founder’s Latest Petition for Rehearing Denied

Once again, the man behind the notorious Silk Road is back in the news. Ross Ulbricht, founder and lead administrator of the infamous darknet market, just started a new chapter in his seemingly endless back-and-forth battle with the courts in an effort to appeal his life sentence.

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Petition word cloud concept
A U.S. court has again denied Ross Ulbricht, the man behind the notorious Silk Road market, a petition seeking for a rehearing of his life sentence.

For the past five years, Ulbricht’s legal team has worked continuously to pursue several options to sway the court. But viable options appear to be diminishing—particularly after the outcome of his latest court petition.

Last week, his efforts to secure a case rehearing were quickly thwarted when New York Southern District Court Judge Katherine B. Forrest denied Ross Ulbricht’s petition.

Ulbricht first received his sentence back in 2015 with the judge ruling for life imprisonment without any possibility of parole.

The sentence was for the charges of establishing and operating Silk Road, then a highly famous darknet marketplace that was ultimately shut down in 2013 after Ulbricht’s arrest.

Ever since, his defense team has headed a series of legal battles attempting to fight his conviction for various charges, including conspiracy to traffic drugs and money laundering.

The Latest Setback in the Silk Road Case

Unlike before, the delivery of the judgment was more laconic, with the judge blatantly stating that the said motion was denied.

This conciseness of the judgment delivery is perhaps a reflection of the mere fact that the judge had earlier made an initial ruling with regards to the arguments set forth by the defendant.

The same judge had denied an earlier motion presented to her by the defendant subsequently extending the time for an appeal motion.

In her delivery, Judge Forrest went to outline that the motion is neither a door for anyone to re-litigate what is already litigated, nor a chance to carry out an effort to come up with new evidence in the Silk Road case.

Back then, the Judge took notice that at the time, the court did take into consideration that Ulbricht’s counsel was not part of the trial.

Even so, the transcripts indicate that the evidence to which he is now referring to (claims that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was closely following his online movements) was however well known and used in the trial.

In her statement, she said that this was not any new and as such, there was no substantive cause shown that would result in a delay in the deadline.

Surveillance During Silk Road Investigation

DENIED word made with building blocks
For the past five years, Ulbricht’s legal team has worked continuously to pursue several options to sway the court.

According to Ulbricht, the court has not only overlooked but has also misapplied and misapprehended pertinent law and certain facts.

In his defense, he outlines that the court is misguided in its perception of the evidence brought forth by the defendant since it is, as a matter of fact, fresh evidence which was not earlier disclosed or known to the court at the trial period.

In reference to his counsel, Ulbricht indicates that what was unknown to the court before the Silk Road trial was that the authorities were making use of unauthorized surveillance tools in their efforts to keep track of both his physical movements together with his location while he was in his residence.

What’s more, the defendant’s counsel also went ahead to claim that the U.S. government was in possession of both additional material and internet activity monitoring data collected by the FBI during the Silk Road investigation, which are both substantial evidence crucial for the defense’s preparation.

This, they said, is because the government heavily relied on this material when they applied for the residence and laptop search warrants, as is required by U.S. legal codes which govern criminal investigations by law enforcement.

This material was crucial in pinning Ulbricht as the operator of the Silk Road darknet market.

The defense’s earlier request for an extension of time was so as to not only acquire but also scrutinize this data.

This is among the several applications Ross Ulbricht has filed.

In May 2017, he had also filed for an appeal for his sentence of life imprisonment and, just like Judge Forrest did this year, the panel of judges in the Northeastern Appeals Court also denied his request.

The reasons for the rejection of the appeals seem to center around the fact that the defendant’s counsel always files for an appeal under the same grounds.

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Silk Road Founder Appeals to the Supreme Court

  Updated coverage on Ross Ulbricht case here

Ross Ulbricht, the brains behind the underground website Silk Road, renowned for the easy-access sale of illicit drugs, has officially made his appeal plea to the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS).

This formal application seeks to set up a hearing to overturn his sentencing of life imprisonment without the likelihood of any parole.

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Wooden judge gavel and red legal book on wooden table
Lawyers of Ross Ulbricht, the creator of the Silk Road, have officially filed an appeal court order with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Defined as the writ of certiorari, this plea orders the next lower court (the Court of Appeals), to immediately submit all its records to the Supreme Court for it to review and consequently make a ruling.

Supreme Court to Possibly Review Silk Road Case

The SCOTUS comprises a nine-member bench that functions as the ultimate arbiter in all legal matters.

Of the nine in the current court, five are considered reasonably conservative while the rest (four in number) are generally more permissive.

Neil Gorsuch, the overall head of the court just recently appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, is considered to be reasonably fair on issues of the Fourth Amendment, which forms the grounds on which Ulbricht is basing his appeal case.

Nevertheless, despite the hype surrounding this case, much is yet to be done before anything substantial is known.

Amazingly, the SCOTUS is not obligated to go ahead with this petition.

In truth, the SCOTUS only sits to hear approximately 150 cases of the more than 7,000 pleas submitted to its premises on an annual basis.

In most cases, the rulings as delivered by the federal Circuit Courts act as the ultimate word for many of the cases.

Surprisingly, of the several appellate courts, the Second Circuit (which delivered Ulbricht’s ruling) receives the lowest reversal frequency from the SCOTUS.

This means that for Ulbricht, taking the case to the SCOTUS may not offer him the reprieve he so much hopes for even if the SCOTUS decides to take up the matter.

In many cases, the SCOTUS will only hear a writ if it concerns national significance or if they want to lay the curtain on existing inconsistencies in a decision, or even to establish precedence.

What’s more, they only hear a case if four of the nine justices vote to accept it.

The clerks of the justices do the initial reviewing of the writ, and it is from there that they draft a summary recommending a hearing.

The justices then convene for a conference to deliberate on these recommendations and decide on whether or not to proceed with the trial.

Two Questions for Silk Road Appeal Argument

Rubber stamping that says 'Appeal'.
Ross Ulbricht, the brains behind the underground website Silk Road, renowned for the easy-access sale of illicit drugs, has officially made his appeal plea to the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS).

The plea submitted by Ulbricht’s lawyers centers on two critical questions as per the writ:

  1. Is the Fourth Amendment violated in case of a warrantless seizure without probable cause on a person’s internet traffic?
  2. Does the Sixth Amendment allow judges to require that facts be presented to support an otherwise unreasonable sentence?

However, looking at the U.S. Constitution, there is a particularly peculiar aspect especially since the document outlines the duties of the government and its characteristic functions, but it also describes the amendments to those precise functions.

The top ten form what is called the “Bill of Rights,” which are restrictive laws that prohibit the government from committing certain acts.

The pertinent part of the Fourth Amendment on which Ulbricht’s case centers involves citizens’ right to privacy.

The amendment states that their privacy should not be violated unless the courts issue a warrant upon probable cause.

Similarly, the pertinent Sixth Amendment section states that the defendant in any criminal prosecution has the right to a fair and speedy trial under an impartial jury.

With this in mind, Ulbricht’s lead attorney outlines that the Silk Road case presents two significant constitutional questions with a wider significance for criminal defendant rights in general.

Urgent Need for Digital Age Legislation

Warrantless searches potentially play a significant role in this particular case since the information the prosecutors used against the defendant was apparently compiled under a third-party doctrine.

This allowed Silk Road investigators to carry out searches on Ross Ulbricht’s digital activities, presumed to be publically accessible via a telecommunications firm and a modem.

The doctrine in itself needs immediate amending notably because it dates back to a time when laptops, phones and internet services did not form a critical part of a person’s daily routine.

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Corrupt Silk Road Agent Gets Additional 2 Years in Jail

A former U.S. Secret Service agent by the name Shaun Bridges just received a sentence of two additional years in prison for his corrupt practices during the takedown of the infamous darknet market Silk Road.

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Man in jail behind bars
Former Silk Road investigator Shaun Bridges has been sentenced to two more years in prison after confessing to a new crime.

According to District Court Judge Richard Seeborg, the totality of crimes committed by Bridges, together with his continued dishonesty to the authorities, was a total betrayal of trust and one of the worst offenses.

In August of this year, Bridges subsequently pleaded guilty to two new accounts of related forfeit and money laundering.

Two years back in 2015, Bridges had been sentenced to 71 months of imprisonment after he was found guilty of stealing money from online traders when he was investigating the underground dark web market Silk Road, which was shut down in 2013.

Judge Seeborg further identified that it was mainly troubling that Bridges continued to engage in more efforts to hide information even after he had entered into a plea agreement.

The judge also noted that Bridges had changed his perception of his criminal acts and seemed to be acting in a manner to suggest he was moving forward with his life.

Bridges spoke briefly during his hearing and began crying as he addressed the judge. According to his statement, he was aware of why he was in that position and what had led him to that point.

He further spoke to the court about the state of his former prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Bridges noted that during his time in the prison, he was unable to access any recreational or educational facilities and opportunities, a factor he says contributed to his admission.

More than a year ago after the Silk Road shutdown and subsequent investigations into Bridges’ behavior, U.S. federal authorities strongly suggested that even after Bridges had been dismissed from the Secret Service and penned his signature on his first guilty plea, he had already transferred himself over 1,600 bitcoins illegally.

U.S. federal authorities had earlier seized those digital currencies from a European exchange known as Bitstamp, although the exchange later challenged this seizure.

According to an August 2017 court filing, Bridges had allegedly laundered these funds from the U.S. government through moving the coins from the BTC-e account and moving them into several other online accounts and wallets.

In January 2016 when the federal agents approached him, Bridges directed them to how and where to locate a total of 600 bitcoins which were then at Bitfinex and another lot of about 1,000 bitcoins safeguarded in a cold hardware wallet.

What he did not know then was that the Secret Service had already discovered the Bitfinex coins.

During the court proceedings, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Frentzen described that although Bridges did deserve the punishment, he also did help with the crackdown.

In his explanation, Frentzen explained that the reason why Bridges earned an additional sentence was because he provided new and more information which he had not produced earlier in the proceedings.

Mallet of the judge
Bridges earned an additional sentence

In an exclusive sentencing memorandum filed before the hearing this month, Laurel Headley, who serves as Bridges’ attorney, asked the court to impose a two-year sentence which Bridges would serve together with the 71-month sentence he was already then serving for the corruption in the Silk Road investigation.

According to Headley, the fact that Bridges did, in the end, come clean and cooperated with authorities should at least represent something while issuing the judgment.

She noted that unlike earlier, her client had been more cooperative with the authorities, even allowing unfettered questioning.

Before this hearing, Bridges parents had both submitted letters to Judge Seeborg asking him to consider their son’s predicament since his wife had just divorced, further requesting a “fair decision” to assist him in putting his life “back on track.”

It is highly likely that Shaun Bridges will be locked in a facility in proximity to Maryland, his home state.

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U.S. Government Nets $48M from Sale of Seized Silk Road Bitcoins

After several years of uncertainty, the United States government has finally claimed the $48 million in funds earned from the Silk Road, a notorious online drug marketplace whose operations were terminated in 2013.

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FBI agent gathers evidence
The U.S. government has finally claimed $48 million brought in after the infamous Silk Road was seized by the feds in 2013.

In the successful government raid of the market, the authorities seized 144,336 Bitcoins, all which were auctioned off in 2014 and 2015.

The delay in receiving these auction proceeds came courtesy of numerous lawsuits from none other than Ross Ulbricht, the initial operator of the Silk Road online platform that sought to contest the legitimacy of seizing the units.

Nonetheless, Ulbricht has subsequently decided not to proceed with his claims, which therefore means that the U.S. government, through its Department of Justice, is now $48 million “richer.”

The Silk Road Takedown

Silk Road was a dark web marketplace which served as a hub for anonymous transactions for numerous forms of illegal activities and products, particularly narcotics.

Ross Ulbricht, who was then the principal figure associated with the operations of the Silk Road, disguised himself as the moniker of the “Dread Pirate Roberts,” a character adapted from the film The Princess Bride.

The site started off as a typically anonymous venture, which mandated for word-of-mouth communications to gain access.

Even so, this site grew in popularity with Ulbricht accepting an interview by Forbes. Eventually, the site caught the attention of authorities who later on brought down the famed platform together with its original operator, the Dread Pirate Roberts.

In 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to life imprisonment after the jury convicted him of charges of hacking, money laundering and illicit drug trafficking.

He recently withdrew his lawsuit seeking to bar the U.S. government from not only selling the cryptocurrency for cash but also forfeiting the resulting funds to satisfy their legal suits against him.

Paul Grant, the attorney to Ulbricht, confirmed that the U.S. Department of Justice would allocate the funds for general use—an act that he referred to as “sad for justice.”

In May of this year, a life sentence and jury conviction against Ulbricht was upheld by the Second Circuit court after he had challenged the ruling.

His decision to appeal the conviction was motivated by the fact that his prosecutors had conducted unlawful electronic searches to make a case against him, not to mention the fact that purportedly corrupt federal agents had attempted to draw on the investigation to disguise their intentions of extorting cryptocurrency units.

Grant later confirmed that he and his client were exploring legal means to overturn both the sentence and conviction.

As per the prosecutors’ claims, Ulbricht launched the Silk Road back in 2011, then permitting users to buy computer hacking software, illegal drugs and other illicit products.

Before officers brought its operations to an end in October 2013, the site used an exclusive Bitcoin payment system to carry out the transactions, a factor that ensured customers’ identities remained anonymous.

By the time the authorities burst its operations, numerous individuals had succumbed to drug overdose courtesy of the narcotics purchased from this site.

Prosecutors later tied these deaths to Ulbricht, who had evaded the authorities innumerable times under the codename “Dread Pirate Roberts” and later ditched the play and sympathized with the victims.

Still, authorities were able to tie him to another serious crime as well.

It was stated that he had tried to petition murder-for-hire cases against his blackmailer, among other enemies, at a total cost of $730,000.

Young FBI agent in uniform
FBI tracked him through several forged documents

The operation did bear fruit when the Federal Bureau of Investigations was able to track him down through assessing several forged identification documents in various packages originating in Canada and heading to a similar address back in San Francisco, California.

The Silk Road was subsequently shut down (although other versions later cropped up) and the suspect, Ross Ulbricht, was consequently sentenced to a life imprisonment without any possibility of parole for charges of conspiracy to trafficking narcotics, computer hacking, and money laundering.

Timing is Ever Crucial           

Finally, and this is where most Bitcoin holders will incessantly lament, by selling the 144,336 units at $334 for each in 2014 and 2015, the U.S. government has pocketed $48 million.

Surprisingly, had they waited until just after Ulbricht had finally dropped his legal claim about the unlawful seizure, the headlines would now be reading “U.S. Government Claims $630 million” for those same units.

Nevertheless, there is little information on exactly where this $48 million bankroll will go.

While federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the FBI or even the Department of Treasury might be the potential benefactors, it is only best to assume that this money will not be put to proper use since the federal government is never really one for financial responsibility when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

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Mother’s Latest Update on Her Son, Ross Ulbricht

It has been four years after the famous Silk Road was shut down by the FBI, and customers who benefitted from the website have moved to other leading darknet market platforms—bidding adieu to the dark web marketplace to excel their businesses elsewhere.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road is BACK ONLINE NOW as Silk Road 3.1 and open for business. The team did a change and upgrade for a reason we can only assume for security.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.1 Guide <<

male inmate behind prison bars
Lyn Ulbricht, the mother of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, speaks of the flaws in the justice system and offers details about her son’s present life.

While ex-Silk Road users found a new home at emerging marketplaces in the absence of the site, a fierce trial was taking place in the U.S. court system to bring down the market’s founder, Ross Ulbricht, who ran the Silk Road under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts.”

After pleading guilty to drug-related charges, Ulbricht received a life sentence verdict. This left his mother, Lyn Ulbricht, distraught yet determined to reverse the ruling through the appellate courts.

For two years, she tirelessly worked to rally up enough support for her son’s appeal but, ultimately, she did not succeed. Earlier this year, a Second Circuit judge rejected the life sentence appeal.

Only a few months after Ross lost his life sentence appeal, Lyn confirmed that she had filed a rehearing with the Second Circuit panel.

As the name suggests, this filing requests the court that they should reconsider the verdict. But the court denied the request in August.

At this point, most professionals and lawyers do believe that it is not possible to change the verdict on Ross’s case.

Latest Updates on Ross, Lyn’s Candid Talk

At present, Ross Ulbricht is in prison without any chances of parole. His mother is persistent in working to change the U.S. judicial system and the way it treated her son.

In a recent public appearance, she revealed some detail about what went on during these years, opening up about her son’s life inside prison and the things she wants to see changed.

Life Inside Prison

Being the doting mother and son duo, Ross and Lyn have kept in touch throughout these years as she campaigned for his prison release and gathered supporters through the Free Ross movement.

Speaking about Ross’ life inside prison, Lyn confirmed that even though he had to spend three and half years in a New York prison institution, it is much better to be in the Colorado facility where Ross is currently located.

She also said that the New York prison is a transitional facility and never designed for long-term living, whereas the Colorado institution is much more spacious and inhabitable. It’s a high and maximum security prison, but not supermax.

Lyn felt that Ross should never be in a high-security prison because his crimes are non-violent but because of his long-term sentence, he is forced to be there.

Even if the judge had given him a sentence less than 30 years, he could be in a medium security prison. He has never been harmful in any way to be there, she added.

An Unfair Judgment for Silk Road Creator

mallet of judge
Her mother was dissatisfied with the justice system.

Lyn Ulbricht is extremely dissatisfied with the justice system for giving her son such a harsh punishment for a non-violent crime.

She felt that the FBI and law enforcement officials wanted to make an example out of him, forcing him to bear the burden of other darknet market dealers that sell and smuggle illegal drugs and weapons, or conduct other unlawful activities over the dark web.

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