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Ross Ulbricht Found Guilty On All 7 Counts In Silk Road Trial 257

blottsie writes Ross Ulbricht was convicted on Wednesday of running Silk Road, a Dark Net black market that became over a $100 million Internet phenomenon before Ulbricht's 2013 arrest. Ulbricht was found guilty on all seven felony charges he faced, including drug trafficking, continuing a criminal enterprise, hacking, money laundering, and fraud with identification documents. He faces up to life in prison for these convictions.
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Ross Ulbricht Found Guilty On All 7 Counts In Silk Road Trial

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  • ...then he deserves his punishment.

    I'm sure there will be hundreds of comments here about it, but since none of us were at the trial, well really never know.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I doubt that most of us will even read snippets of transcripts, beyond the cherry-picked ones that might end up on the news.

      I wonder if the nature of this trial and conviction will work against him even more in the murder-for-hire trial he's to face next...
    • But if he's innocent, or framed, he just got rail-roaded for life.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Yup, and as mentioned most of us won't even bother reading the transcript to know the difference.

        That's why injustice exists. Not because evil exists, but because apathy does.

        • by alen ( 225700 )

          is the public supposed to read the transcripts of every criminal trial?

          • by CauseBy ( 3029989 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @04:46PM (#48983859)

            Seriously. RoknrolZombie makes a ridiculous point. If justice meant every citizen had to read every court transcript then justice would be impossible.

            Instead, we hire professionals to do that work for us. We call them "judges". To be extra super careful, instead of just having one judge we have several layers of judges who can overrule findings. The system is open to critique on the details but I can't imagine a fundamentally different system that would be better.

            • by Jayfar ( 630313 )

              Seriously. RoknrolZombie makes a ridiculous point. If justice meant every citizen had to read every court transcript then justice would be impossible.

              Instead, we hire professionals to do that work for us. We call them "judges".

              Or we hire jurors and pay them each $9 per diem.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kogut ( 1133781 )

            No, but it's a reasonable prerequisite for those who are expressing strong opinions about the outcome.

            • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @04:59PM (#48983999)

              Opinions about the outcome don't matter. Due process doesn't allow for crowd sourced judgments. The legal procedure is well established and time-tested.

              The guy is guilty as charged. That's not open to opinion and not reversible by public vote.

              There are appeal process, other until then, let be written, so let it be done.

              • >Opinions about the outcome don't matter.

                Yes they do. For a stable society, the public at large must believe that trials are decided justly.

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward

                The legal system is fucked up. While we probably shouldn't throw people in jail based on public opinion based on one-sided news reports we need to ensure the legal system actually provides for a fair trial. That's not happening in ANY case right now.

                "The federal guilty plea rate has risen from 83% in 1983 to 96% in 2009,[24] a rise attributed largely to the Sentencing Guidelines." - Federal guilty pleas and trial rates, U.S. Sentencing Commission

                Where there may have been some resemblance of fairness judges

          • by jdavidb ( 449077 )

            is the public supposed to read the transcripts of every criminal trial?

            No, but if more of the public would refuse to find people guilty on drug charges, it would certainly help. I don't need to read a transcript to know that I wouldn't convict Ulbricht, or anyone else, of the charges brought against him.

            • by DrXym ( 126579 )
              Funny. I read the indictment and I knew straight away that the guy was fucked. It's almost as though the feds had a bit of a problem with somebody running a market for drugs, weapons, money laundering, stolen goods & credit cards, and hitmen and poured all their time and effort into taking it down.
        • "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

          Attributed (questionably) to Edmund Burke [wikiquote.org].

        • That's why injustice exists. Not because evil exists, but because apathy does.

          Build on that thought......go out and help a homeless person today. You don't have to be apathetic just because everyone else is.

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        But if he's innocent, or framed, he just got rail-roaded for life.

        This can be said about every convict with a long sentence, can it not?

      • Yeah but thats true for every conviction ever. Despite that, the evidence seems pretty damning with this case.

    • by alen ( 225700 )

      the FBI guy did catch him in the library at a computer with the silk road admin page on the screen

      • ...and he had the key used to sign the Dread Pirate Roberts emails on his computer.. ...and they were able to trace many millions of dollars' worth of Bitcoin transactions to his personal Bitcoin acct.

        • It's a good thing he used Bitcoin then, with the public audit record in the block chain.
          Traditional money laundering with cash would make it almost impossible to trace.

    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @05:05PM (#48984077)

      indeed, assuming he was guilty, and the jury thought so. Press accounts pretty damning and red handed in the arrest. then it seems like those charges omitted what Id consider the most heinous crime: soliciting the murder of 5 people.

      I loved his lawyers theory that the Mt Gox mogul was really the mastermind. That would have been such a wickedly cool story. Since the FBI seized the assets of Silk Road about the same time Mt Gox had some liquidity problems it even seemed failntly plausible. I'd love to hear what the jury made of that piece of spaghetti on the wall.

      • This article seems fairly convincing. [arstechnica.com] From the article:

        It was a simple matter for me, with just public information and a couple hours of coding, to trace 20% of Ulbricht’s stash as coming directly from Silk Road. It turns out that the wallet.dat files were able to trace many more.

        The biggest question not answered in the trial is how the servers were found. The defense didn't challenge on that point (no one knows why).

        • by dnavid ( 2842431 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @07:44PM (#48985323)

          The biggest question not answered in the trial is how the servers were found. The defense didn't challenge on that point (no one knows why).

          The answer to many questions about the defense strategy during the trial seem to be that either Ulbricht or his attorney or both thought they were engaged in an internet debate and not a criminal trial. His lawyer repeatedly failed to follow proper procedure during the trial that every trial lawyer knows, and used legal strategies that weirdly precluded them from offering certain lines of defense. For example, a critical defense assertion seems to have been that many of the pieces of evidence the prosecution used against Ulbricht were not owned by him or not his property. By making that assertion, he couldn't simultaneously assert that his rights were violated when they were acquired because he claimed they were not his in the first place. When his lawyer tried to do so, he was explicitly told he couldn't do that, as if he didn't even know.

          Its almost as if the defense believed that since the prosecution bears the burden of proof, anything that had *any* alternative explanation, no matter how unlikely or illogical, automatically prevented proof beyond reasonable doubt. Which is ridiculous. I have a sneaking suspicion that most of this strategy was forced upon defense counsel by Ulbricht himself. It looks from the outside less like something an (even incompetent) attorney would do, and more like someone used to internet board sparring would think should work.

          • I have a sneaking suspicion that most of this strategy was forced upon defense counsel by Ulbricht himself. It looks from the outside less like something an (even incompetent) attorney would do, and more like someone used to internet board sparring would think should work.

            That would explain some of the strange decisions they made, like this one where the judge [archive.org] gave him a note clearly telling him that the procedure was not a good one, giving him a second chance.

            I guess he should have realized that people are rarely convinced by internet board sparring, even though both sides typically think they've won.

      • These charges (drug trafficking, etc) were federal crimes, and this was the federal trial. The murder-for-hire case is still being built in Maryland courts.

  • http://www.dailydot.com/crime/... [dailydot.com]

    they were dropped

    lack of evidence?

    i haven't been following closely, does anyone know why those charges went away?

    • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

      Those charges were raised in a different state. They weren't in this trial, they could be another trial, but at this point I doubt they'll bother.

      • i finally read TFA, you are correct:

        There is also a murder-for-hire charge looming large for Ulbricht in Maryland courts relating to what prosecutors say was an attempted—but failed—hit placed on a former employee. The supposed hitman was actually an undercover agent, and the murder, which cost $80,000, was allegedly staged with fake blood and photographed for Ulbricht’s approval.

        they'll probably still try him

        but indeed, it's rather pointless, with the other charges he's not getting out of prison regardless

        • by Kobun ( 668169 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @04:48PM (#48983893)
          If they really want to make sure he stays in forever, they'll try him on this too. Only finding him guilty of the DPR charges means that they're the only thing keeping him in - an appeal might fix that. If he is found guilty of the murder-for-hire charge as well, his chances of successfully appealing them both and getting out are likely poor.
        • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @05:00PM (#48984011)

          In the case where there's a state and a federal case, often the state will step aside and let the feds try theirs first and if they get the conviction, leave it with that. That is what happened with the loony who shot Gabby Giffords and others in Arizona. AZ had murder and attempted murder cases against him, but so did the federal government, since he killed a federal judge and tried to kill a congressman. AZ let the feds arrest and try him, so they incur the cost of imprisoning him in their facilities. He's away for life anyways, so it doesn't matter. In the event the federal case had failed, AZ could have then stepped in and moved forward on their charges.

          • by linuxrocks123 ( 905424 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @05:31PM (#48984267) Homepage Journal

            You allude to one of the most disgusting loopholes in the US justice system, which is that double jeopardy does not apply across the federal/state boundary. So, yes, the feds can try you, you can be found innocent, and then the state gets another bite at the apple.

            This is VERY uncommon, though, because both federal and state prosecutors typically will, as agency policy, NOT exercise this right, because it's so unfair to do that and so out-of-keeping with the spirit of the constitution. But there have been instances where they have done this. And it's disgusting.

            • These are separate charges. In the case I'm talking about the whacko killed a number of people, and injured more. Some of them were just ordinary civilians, and so it would be Arizona law that would cover it. However some of them were federal employees and federal law would cover it. So he could be tried for some of the crimes under state law, some of them under federal. No jeopardy problems with that.

    • by Megol ( 3135005 )

      There are no indications that any murder took place, that the persons (excluding DPR) involved intended to murder someone or even that the person DPR wanted dead ever existed in the first place!
      I guess Ross still could be tried for conspiracy to commit murder... The rest of those involved? Maybe tried for fraud.

  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @04:32PM (#48983723) Homepage

    I was shocked at how bad Ulbricht's defense was. They threw out two theories, hoping to raise reasonable doubt, and both were trounced by the government's evidence. Even if Ulbricht had really sold the site shortly after creating it and then was invited back recently to be the fall guy- he's still guilty of the conspiracies he was charged with because he came back in an admin role.

    I assume he picked his own lawyer and didn't have a public defender, but they were terrible. If you know you're going to court with a dog shit defense, just plead guilty and hope for leniency. Maybe the lawyer advised that and Ulbricht refused.

    • by hackwrench ( 573697 ) <hackwrench@hotmail.com> on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @04:43PM (#48983827) Homepage Journal
      I read it was hampered by the prosecutor objecting to everything, and then they couldn't call expert witnesses.
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/sa... [forbes.com]
      • i was on a murder trial jury

        i would characterize the defense lawyers as having sold the accused on a harebrained defense strategy

        when the evidence was overwhelming and unambiguous, and we quickly found him guilty

        i wouldn't be surprised that the novelty of ulbricht's case excited some defense lawyers at some angles they wanted to explore, and ulbricht put faith in their excitement, to naught

        (btw, from reading TFA, ulbricht still has additional murder-for-hire charges facing him at another trial)

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          i was on a murder trial jury

          i would characterize the defense lawyers as having sold the accused on a harebrained defense strategy

          when the evidence was overwhelming and unambiguous, and we quickly found him guilty

          i wouldn't be surprised that the novelty of ulbricht's case excited some defense lawyers at some angles they wanted to explore, and ulbricht put faith in their excitement, to naught

          (btw, from reading TFA, ulbricht still has additional murder-for-hire charges facing him at another trial)

          Well, I would

          • usually you can cut a deal before a trial starts where you get a reduced sentence by admitting guilt and avoiding an unnecessary trial. going to trial is a gamble. for the prosecution and the defense

            but if the evidence stacked against you is quite damning, it's a bad gamble with the odds highly against you. you should have settled beforehand

            in the case i was on, the proof against the guy was airtight and clear. but the defense hinged upon his buddy's involvement mitigating his guilt ( i don't want to get in

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 )

        A defense lawyer has to expect the prosecution to object to everything.

        "The judge sustained some, but overruled most of the objections."

        So it doesn't sound like those objections had much of an impact, other than being obnoxious.

        "In the following weeks, the defense would attempt to call Steven M. Bellovin, a professor at Columbia University’s computer science department, to testify on—among other things—Linux kernel versions.

        The judge ruled that they had not complied with the appropriate di

      • The prosecutors objected to everything (and the judge allowed) because the defense wanted to cross-examine prosecution witnesses on topics the prosecution had not brought up on direct examination.

        The proper thing to do when you want to bring up new topics with prosecution witnesses is to also list them as witnesses for the defense, not lay out your defense case before it's your turn to do so.

        And the defense tried to insert their experts at the last minute without presenting sufficient evidence that they wer

      • I found this Ars article rather illuminating:
        http://arstechnica.com/tech-po... [arstechnica.com]
        Specifically, this quote at the end:

        Ulbricht received a fair trial. The judge was hard on the defense, but that is largely due to how the defense acted and their strange tactical decisions.

        In one of the judge's orders (I believe the one excluding his expert witnesses), the Judge blasted the defense as having made a calculated risk - they didn't want to show their hand so that the prosecution couldn't show evidence to counter the defense strategy, so they waited until the last minute to add their experts to the trial. However, the prosecution saw some of this coming and dropped a t

    • As a defense lawyer you have to work with what you have, and sometimes you have jack and shit. My friend is a lawyer that worked for the public defender's office and of all his clients, there was only one who he wasn't sure of their guilt. So all he could do is see if the state made any procedural mistakes which could get the case dismissed (which they did sometimes) or try to talk the client in to taking a plea. If they wouldn't he'd have to go to trial with an already-lost case. He'd try his best, as both

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ultranova ( 717540 )

      If you know you're going to court with a dog shit defense, just plead guilty and hope for leniency.

      There was no hope for that in this case. Silk Road embarassed the state twice: once by going uncaught for years and the second time by proving the drug war rethoric is bollocks - after all, every single customer was functional enough to operate rather complex technological systems. So there was no way in Hell Ulbricht would ever walk free again.

  • by mr.mctibbs ( 1546773 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @04:32PM (#48983729)
    My understanding of the Continuing Criminal Enterprise conviction is that it means he will be spending life behind bars without the possibility of parole, with no discretion afforded in to the judge in sentencing.
  • I've been following this trial for the last few weeks reading Ars, Wired, TechDirt and listening to Free Talk Live. The Judge basically hamstringed the defense ruling that they should only receive the prosecution's evidence against him...the weekend before the trial began. That right there is such a fundamental insult to the basic rights of any accused that should horrify and enrage anyone who believed in our justice system's impartiality. Add that to the fact that the judge allowed the the prosecution t

  • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @06:10PM (#48984557)

    Maybe I'm late to the party here, but I only just now realized that Dread Pirate Roberts' actual legal defense was that he'd left the ship to his cabin boy, and has been retired for the past 15 years and living like a king in Patagonia.

    • by sphealey ( 2855 )

      - - - - - and living like a king in Patagonia. - - - - -

      And a good argument that would have been. If the FBI had tracked him down at a resort in Patagonia with no Internet connection that is, instead of a library in California.

  • Yea, not so well for this guy.

    It might be harder for the government to track you down by dumping subpoenas on banks like they are accustomed to, but you got to understand, BitCoin is just as traceable (if not more). All the data they need to trace every transaction a Coin has bee though is in the block chain for that coin, and every transaction gets published to the mining community for verification of the block chain. Once they figure out which is your wallet, all they need to do is search the records a

  • Anyone looking at life in prison for a non-violent drug crime is living under an unjust system.

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