Ross Ulbricht’s Defense Point to Corrupt Feds While Seeking New Trial

Posted in: Archive
January 13, 2016 3:04 PM UTC

It has been nearly a year since Ross Ulbricht was convicted in all seven charges filed against him for his substantial role as the figurehead in the running of Silk Road, the infamously anonymous dark web drug marketplace.

Now, his defense is filing to appeal. Their strategy is to seek a retrial by citing a long stack of abuses by the prosecutors and the court while convicting Ulbricht. The defense will argue that the court prevented crucial evidence from seeing the day of light. In particular, the evidence and information surrounding two corrupt federal agents who were involved in the Silk Road Investigation.

The new appeal, acquired by Wired, was submitted to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Unit by Ulbricht’s defense and contains a comprehensive list of arguments that fundamentally attest to Ulbricht being denied a fair trial.

Suppressing Information of Corruption

The appeal stated that the court had abused its discretion and denied Ulbricht his rights to a due process, presenting a defense and a fair trial. Ulbricht’s defense argued that they weren’t made privy to the evidence relating to DEA agent Carl Force’s corruption, a charge that saw him sentenced to 6 years in prison.

Ulbricht’s lawyers also claim the court refused to order the government to provide additional material regarding Force’s corruption. Fundamentally, Joshua Dratel – Ulbricht’s lead attorney wrote that Force’s misdeeds were hidden from the defense until after the trial and even until after post-trial.

An excerpt from the filing read:

Force was not the only corrupt federal law enforcement agentinvolved in the Silk Road investigation, as a Treasury Special Agent, Shaun Bridges, was also under investigation for conduct in concert with, related to, and similar to Force’s (and had also been interviewed, and therefore cognizant of the investigation, prior to December 2014) – yet the government never mentioned or alluded to Bridges at all in its pretrial disclosures.

Following the above statement, the defense argued that ‘contrary to the government’s claim [that] Force’s (and Bridge’s) corruption was not independent of prosecution.’ Furthermore, ‘the information about Force (and Bridges)’ were deemed by his defense as ‘relevant, exculpatory, and material,’ evidence that would have proved to

The defense added:

Thus, in denying Ulbricht’s post-trial Rule 33 motion based on the Force and Bridges corruption and the government’s knowing failure to make full disclosure prior to trial, the Court further abused its discretion. As a result, Ulbricht’s convictions should be vacated, and a new trial ordered.

Ross Ulbricht previously appealed his conviction in June 2015 after being sentenced for life in prison earlier in February 2015.

Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges plead guilty for his part in the theft of bitcoins from the Silk Road investigation in June 2015. Later that month, former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Carl Force also plead guilty for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bitcoin. Shaun Bridges was sentenced to 71 months in prison, whereas Carl Force was sentenced to 78 months in prison.

Image from Shutterstock.

Last modified: May 21, 2020 10:35 AM UTC

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Samburaj Das @sambdas

Samburaj is the Chief Editor of, one of the earliest and foremost publications covering blockchain, cryptocurrency, and financial technology news. He has authored over 2,000 articles for Reach him at Visit his LinkedIn profile here or his Muck Rack profile here.