Ross Ulbricht, in the library, with the laptop: Silk Road boss found GUILTY of all charges
Clue in 2015
Ross Ulbricht, the man accused of running the Silk Road online drugs souk under the alias "Dread Pirate Roberts," has been found guilty of all charges against him.
The jury in the Manhattan, New York courtroom where Ulbricht stood trial for drugs trafficking and other offenses took just three and a half hours to deliberate on Wednesday, Bloomberg reports.
Its verdict found Ulbricht, 30, guilty of multiple offenses including narcotics trafficking, trafficking in fraudulent identity documents, computer hacking, money laundering, and "engaging in a criminal enterprise" – a charge usually reserved for major mob figures and the like.
The trial lasted three weeks and saw prosecutors present a number of witnesses who testified to links between the shadowy Silk Road operator and Ulbricht's own online accounts.
Ulbricht's attorney Joshua Dratel, on the other hand, presented a paper-thin defense that consisted mainly of witnesses to Ulbricht's good character and the dubious assertion that it was impossible to really know who's who on the internet.
"The internet is not what it seems," Dratel said in his closing argument on Tuesday.
In the initial phases of the trial, Dratel attempted to build a defense around the idea that it was not Ulbricht, but Mt Gox founder Mark Karpeles who was the true mastermind behind Silk Road. But US District Judge Katherine Forrest kiboshed that approach, agreeing with prosecutors that Dratel's evidence was based on hearsay and therefore inadmissible.
The severity of the charges against Ulbricht, a web developer living in San Francisco, means he could potentially be sentenced to life in prison.
He was arrested in 2013 in a public library in the Glen Park area of city by the FBI. The Feds grabbed him and his laptop, on which he was logged in and chatting to others as Dread Pirate Roberts.
Even if Judge Forrest throws the book at Ulbricht, however, his ordeal is not yet over. He must next stand trial in Maryland on a separate set of charges, including that he attempted to contract the murders-for-hire of six people associated with Silk Road.
It was not immediately clear whether Ulbricht plans to appeal the decision but it seems likely, given Dratel's frequent clashes with Judge Forrest throughout the trial and his assertion that her decisions had "eviscerated" his defense strategy. ®