Judge denies bail for alleged Silk Road owner
Ross William Ulbricht, the alleged 29-year-old founder of black market drug website Silk Road, has been denied bail by US District Judge Kevin Fox in the Southern District of New York, and will be detained until his trial starts.
The judge obviously took into consideration the claims made by the government in a filing delivered to the court on Wednesday, in which they enumerated the charges first laid against him (conspiracy to commit narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, and money laundering), and the apparent evidence collected during and after his arrest.
“Ulbricht was arrested by the FBI on October 1, 2013, while working on his laptop computer at a San Francisco public library. FBI agents on the scene seized the computer pursuant to a search warrant and took steps to preserve its contents. The evidence recovered from Ulbricht’s computer conclusively confirms that Ulbricht was in fact the individual who created and controlled the Silk Road website,” they claim, adding that Ulbricht was logged in to the Silk Road website as Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) at the time he was arrested.
The also noted that they found on Ulbricht’s computer “abundant additional evidence of his operation of Silk Road,” as well as his journal in which he detailed how he went about it.
“Financial files stored on Ulbricht’s computer likewise confirm his continuous control of Silk Road from beginning to end,” they say. “Moreover, actual proceeds derived from Silk Road were found on the computer, in the form of a Bitcoin wallet containing approximately 144,000 Bitcoins, equivalent to over $20 million based on prevailing exchange rates at the time of Ulbricht’s arrest.”
But the main reasons cited for requesting bail to be denied was that he “repeatedly resorted to violence in seeking to protect his lucrative business, commissioning at least six murders for hire in connection with operating the site,” and that he has already “demonstrated the willingness and ability to flee: he actively evaded law enforcement for years prior to his arrest; he lived under aliases; he made plans for eventual flight; he procured fake identification documents; he sought to obtain foreign citizenship; he has potential access to large stashes of digital currency; and he has significant familial ties abroad.”
The filing goes on to describe each of the murder commissions, but pointed out that “although it appears that none of these murders was actually carried out, Ulbricht clearly intended them to happen, and the details of the attempted murders demonstrate that Ulbricht will not hesitate to use violence in order to silence witnesses, safeguard his criminal proceeds, or otherwise protect his self-interest.”
Despite 24 people pledging the bail money and urging the judge to release him until the trial – the date for which has yet to be scheduled – the judge ultimately agreed with the government and decided not to grant bail.
In the meantime, Ulbricht supporters have started collecting money online for his defence, and the website he allegedly created is back online, seemingly headed by someone who took on the mantle and online handle of “Dread Pirate Roberts.”