Is Mark Karpeles the infamous Dread Pirate Roberts? The Ross Ulbricht trial currently ongoing in New York City has taken an unexpected turn. The defense, with the help of the undercover Silk Road agent working for the Department of Homeland Security, Der-Yeghiayan, has seemingly successfully presented the case that the culpable Dread Pirate Roberts behind Silk Road was not Ross Ulbricht but Mark Karpeles of Mt. Gox instead. Joshua Dratel, Ross Ulbricht’s lawyer, told the court:
“We have the name of the real mastermind and it’s not Ulbricht.”
The court heard this amazing theory come to light as Dratel cross-examined Der-Yeghiayan, the Department of Homeland Security undercover agent that infiltrated Silk Road and operated as an admin there for a year before the October 2013 takedown of the underground marketplace. Der-Yeghiayan testified that “lots of little things added up to [Mark Karpeles].” Additionally, Der-Yeghiayan testified that one of Karpeles’s holding companies Mutum Sigilum, had registered silkroadmarket.org. Der-Yeghiayan even drafted a copy of a search warrant for Mark Karpeles’s email in 2013.
In May of 2013, Karpeles was warned of the Department of Homeland Security and Der-Yeghiayan’s interest in him and his connection to Silk Road when a Baltimore investigation seized a site that Karpeles was running that was worth over $3 million USD. According to testimony from Der-Yeghiayan, when the Baltimore investigators asked Karpeles about Silk Road, Karpeles said that he would “tell them the name of the person behind the site.” Ulbricht’s defense maintains that it is after this point that Ulbricht was brought back into the Silk Road administration fold to be set up as a fall man.
It is clear that Ross Ulbricht’s defense is building the case that Ross Ulbricht is not the actual DPR that prosecutors are looking for. Shortly after Der-Yeghiayan’s testimony, the trial adjourned for a break and will be back in session next week 1/20/15. The prosecution is attempting to claim that Der-Yeghiayan’s investigation into Karpeles isn’t admissible as evidence; however Judge Katherine Forrest does not seem to be heeding their claims. The Judge stated :
“The defense is trying to raise reasonable doubt the defendant is the real Dread Pirate Roberts. How else would you do it? The defense has been building a picture all afternoon that Karpeles was Dread Pirate Roberts or a Dread Pirate Roberts. That has come out in spades, that that is their argument. That cat is out of the bag.”
Whether or not that cat is named Tibbane remains to be seen.
Update: Karpeles has tweeted :
This is probably going to be disappointing for you, but I am not and have never been Dread Pirate Roberts.
Images from Shutterstock.