Today marks a significant day for Ross Ulbricht, founder of Silk Road, as he rests his hopes on an appeal that could see him spending any part of his sentence outside prison.
Before Silk Road was seized by the FBI in 2013, it was considered as the most sophisticated marketplace on the Internet. Attracting people because of the anonymity it provided its users, it sold fakes IDs, drugs, computer hacking tools, and other illegal items to people across the world.
Due to Silk Road’s concealment, it took undercover investigators years before they were finally able to discover that Ross Ulbricht was the ringleader of Silk Road who went by the alias Dread Pirate Roberts. In 2015, he was sentenced to life in prison for seven criminal charges with no chance of parole. He was also ordered to forfeit around $183 million.
Now, though, Ross Ulbricht and his team of lawyers are resting their hopes on an appeal after Ulbricht’s lawyers accused the government of making a ‘calculated failure’. According to his lawyers, the government failed to disclose information regarding two federal agents, Carl Force and Shaun Bridges, who were found to have stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin from Silk Road during investigations, reports the Wall Street Journal.
During Ross Ulbricht’s 2015 trial U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, who presided over the case, didn’t mention the corrupt agents to the jury. As a result, Ulbricht’s lawyers are claiming that he was denied a fair trial.
The hearing at the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York will see Ulbricht’s lawyers focusing on the convicted agents in a bid to win a new trial.
After he was sentenced in 2015, the U.S. government revealed that a former federal agent who was involved with Silk Road was under investigation. However, while Ulbricht’s team of lawyers wanted to use the information during the trial they were prevented from doing so.
The WSJ reports that according to the government the convicted agents were part of another Silk Road investigation in Baltimore that had no relevance to the Silk Road investigation in Manhattan, where Ulbricht was facing prison.
Another issue Ulbricht’s lawyers have focuses on the sentence he received. His lawyers are reported to have called the life sentence ‘unconscionable.’ However, the government is reported as calling it reasonable. Of course, while the sentence may have been an attempt to deter other dark web marketplaces, they are still operating.
It now remains to be seen whether or not Ross Ulbricht and his lawyers are successful with their appeal after today’s hearing.
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