Lawyers for Ross Ulbricht, once known as Dread Pirate Roberts of the Silk Road, filed an appeal last week.
The attorneys want his conviction thrown out, and a new trial.
Ulbricht was convicted last year on money laundering, conspiracy, drug and hacking-related charges, and sentenced to two life terms, plus another 40 years, for running the abovementioned Silk Road “dark web” online market.
The case against Ulbricht, say his lawyers, was possibly tainted by corrupt law enforcement agents who were themselves convicted of stealing bitcoins from the site and extorting Ulbricht.
Ulbricht’s lawyers say evidence regarding the corrupt DEA and Secret Service agents was improperly suppressed at trial, and that evidence favorable to Ulbricht was withheld from his defense team.
Therefore, the court “abused its discretion” and denied Ulbricht his constitutional rights to a fair trial, says the appeal:
The court abused its discretion and denied Ulbricht his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to due process, the right to present a defense, and a fair trial by (A) precluding the defense from using at trial the evidence relating to DEA Special Agent Carl Force's corruption; (B) refusing to order the government to provide additional discovery and Brady material regarding corruption; and (C) denying Ulbricht's motion for a new trial based on additional post-trial disclosures regarding Force and another corrupt law enforcement agent involved in the Silk Road investigation.
Ulbricht’s family paints a very different picture of him than federal prosecutors.
The family has been waging a campaign to “Free Ross Ulbricht” that accuses the government of framing Ulbricht as part of the “failed War on Drugs,” and depicting his case as a milestone in the government’s crackdown on internet freedom.
Ulbricht’s defense attorneys argued at trial, and in his appeal, that Ulbricht had founded the Silk Road using the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, but that he had sold his stake and was framed by subsequent operators.
On the freeross.org website, the family says the corrupt agents, DEA agent Carl Force and Secret Service Agent Shaun Bridges, had “high-level access to administrative functions of Silk Road,” and could have used that access to “change aspects of the site” and “manipulate” accounts and communications to frame Ulbricht.
But this information was withheld from the jury and kept under seal while the government completed its investigation of the corrupt agents.
On the flip side, the court did allow evidence to be presented at trial that should have been thrown out, according to Ulbricht’s appeal.
The government’s surveillance of Ulbricht, plus “overly broad” access to Ulbricht’s online accounts, were a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.
Finally, the sentence of life without parole was “procedurally and substantively unreasonable,” Ulbricht’s appeal states.
There are many “important issues at stake,” Ulbricht’s family tweeted on 12 January, the day the appeal was filed.
The US government thinks this is an important case, too.
After Ulbricht’s conviction last year, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York said it would “send a clear message” to anyone considering an online criminal enterprise that the “dark web is not a protective shield.”
Ulbricht’s family has raised over $424,000 in Bitcoin for his defense.
“This is far from over,” the family said on its website.
Image of truth courtesy of Shutterstock.com.
10 comments on “Ross Ulbricht appeals Silk Road conviction – did he get a fair trial?”
Ok so let me get this straignt, the guy claims he wasn’t granted a fair trial. Lets assume I started something that was against the law, but then unless I repent of that action and attempt to remediate that error, by either closing down the website or informing the authorities in a responsible manner (annonymously even), then you are just as guilty as the current operators of the site and deserve whatever punishement is metted out.
The argument “guns don’t kill, but people do” holds true here too. The smoking gun is silkroad, the operator is the DPR.
This is just a ploy to get himself out of jail, you got broke the first rule of the criminal handbook “thou shall not get caught”. You’ve now got a very long time to think about what you’ve done and hopefully can try to do more than just assuage your conscience with futile attemps at a repreive of justice.
Meh, the war on drugs is failure. A true free market should allow the sale of drugs…
wait that’s right you just need XXXXXXX TRILLIONS TO START A BIG PHARMA AND IT IS OKAY!!!!!!!
Of course, there were allegations inamongst the Ulbricht trial that he was keen to eliminate competition via, aaaah, extreme means…not very “free market”.
I wouldn’t have a problem with a retrial, so long as ALL the evidence was reviewed for factuality or not, and none of it was ignored. If he facilitated, promoted, knowingly profited from slavery or murder, he has no right to live and should suffer on his way out (in my opinion).
He might have a point here. It depends on how much and what kind of evidence and testimony that these two agents provided was used in the case. I’ve been on a few juries and I would look at a witness differently if he said “While I was extorting the suspect he told me this…” I’m exaggerating but someone intent on enriching his life and cutting a movie deal is a questionable source for evidence.
I just like that last line “send a message that the dark web is not a protective shield”. That’s right New York, your “angst” you’re stereotypical known for is a positive in this instance. Don’t let up till you get the accurate information.
Life for drugs!!!wow!!!there are people who murder other human beings and get less time…smh!!!!
The murder for hires were an obvious ploy to distract from the fact that the government illegally obtained their evidence. I don’t care what this guy did he’s less of a criminal than the investigators and the judge who refused to allow him a fair trial. They should all rot while he drinks margaritas on the beach. Especially the judge, absolutely criminal. They will use this case to further erode any illusion of rights we have left. Ulbrichts a hero and political prisoner. Release Ulbricht immediately. Return to sanity, quit killing babies in an attempt to win the impossible. The biggest thugs work for the government and they will ask you to trade freedom for security every time and claim they keep you safe. This is false. Stop being cowards, what are you so scared of? I can promise you most of you are just leading doe eyed cow lives anyway. Give me some milk or else go home. Libertarianism forever. Dread Pirate Roberts forever. Ulbricht forever. Silk road forever. Cast off your oppressors before they lead you right where they want you, the slaughterhouse.
For anyone casting judgement on Ross you need to stop and read the facts that were kept out of the trial. The fact the agents had made several statements to the fact they thought comments of murder were from someone else, the fact they said it appeared up to 3 people had control of the dreadpirateroberts account, and the amount of evidence suppresed at trial. Was Ross an admin at the site…..sure……do we give ceo’s of ebay life when drugs are sold on there site (and yes it does happen)? There is a much bigger picture here, violation of basic rights and clear avoidance of laws by those who are set to enforce them. Feel free to youtube several FBI and DEA directors talking about how they felt the darkweb was a direct result of lowering violent crimes in drug ridden neighborhoods. The idea was solid……it just rattled the wrong nerves in some agency’s trying to keep a prison industrial complex up and operational.
So corrupt and so wrong on so many levels. If Ross got this sentence then wait for the Julian Assange case to get to trial. Should have moved to Brazil to operate.