Silk Road founder sentenced to life without parole

by Dan Holden | May 29, 2015

Ross Ulbricht

Ross Ulbricht, 31, also known as “Dread Pirate Roberts,” the founder and creator of the Silk Road dark web digital marketplace –reputedly one of the largest known markets for narcotics – has been sentenced by a federal judge to two terms of life in prison and three lesser sentences, according to a USA Today report.

US Judge Katherine Forrest also ordered Ulbricht to forfeit $184 million dollars, most of what the prosecution claimed Silk Road made while coordinating some $1.2 billion in illegal drug transactions before it was shut down in 2013.

Prosecutors said the site was a massive criminal enterprise and characterized Ulbricht as ruthless, even claiming that he was personally responsible for six murders for hire through the site. Ulbricht was denied bail on the basis of these accusations, but the murder charges were never filed.

Ulbricht’s defense attorneys, who never denied that the site engaged in drug sales, said there was no way to prove any connection between the site and any murders, arguing instead that it was a far safer market for purchasing drugs than other alternatives. They also claimed that Ulbricht left the site after it was up and did not return until shortly before his arrest.

The judge rejected this assertion, saying Ulbricht’s operation was “thoughtful, as opposed to just being an economic experiment.”

“You don’t fit the criminal profile” said the judge, referring to his educated and entrepreneurial spirit, “but you are a criminal.”

The judge added that she believed Ulbricht  doesn’t “feel a lot of remorse,” a dismissal of Ulbricht’s own claims in Ulbricht’s own letter to the judge pleading for leniency.

Ulbricht’s defense team said it would seek an appeal, claiming that the life sentence was “unreasonable, unjust, unfair.” Ulbricht could have received as little as 20 years in prison for the convictions.

Ulbricht was convicted in February on seven counts  including trafficking drugs on the internet, narcotics-trafficking conspiracy, running a continuing criminal enterprise, computer-hacking conspiracy, and money-laundering conspiracy, according to Bloomberg.

Parents of drug-overdose victims reportedly spoke before sentencing, and Ulbricht started crying as he apologized.

“I never wanted that to happen,” he said.

Last week, Ulbricht and 97 of his friends and relatives wrote letters to the judgepleading for a lenient sentence.

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