Let’s say Ross Ulbricht wasn’t out to create the drug-and-fake-passports bazaar that his Silk Road became. Let’s say that he just set the place up and then got elbowed out of the way by the real bad actors which turned his would-be free-market libertarian wonderland into the legendary illicit goods online retailer it became. Let’s say he wasn’t getting a cut of those sales, and was just benefiting from Silk Road’s success as an investor. Let’s say those DEA and Secret Service agents were stealing from him, which they were.
Even allowing for all of that, the a federal appeals panel isn’t especially eager to let Ulbricht out of jail before he dies. Whether it’s in the White House or the dark web, the cover-up is often worse than the crime itself. Especially if it involves taking out contracts on five people’s lives to cover your tracks.
The judges pointed in particular to five attempted murders that Mr. Ulbricht allegedly commissioned to protect the anonymity of Silk Road, which operated on a hidden part of the internet called the Tor network.
At trial, prosecutors presented evidence showing Mr. Ulbricht paid $650,000 in bitcoins, a digital currency, for the killings.
“The attempted murders for hire separate this case from that of an ordinary drug dealer...and lend further support to the district court’s finding that Ulbricht’s conduct and character were exceptionally destructive,” Judge Lynch wrote.
As with their rather desperate gambit at trial—alleging that their client was just a pure-hearted entrepreneur who became the fall guy for the real Dread Pirate Roberts—Ulbricht’s lawyers whiffed with their argument about the hits, and all of their other ones.
The defense argued the murders-for-hire should not have been considered at sentencing because murders were never carried out….
“The fact that Ulbricht operated the site from behind a computer, rather than in person like a more prototypical drug kingpin, does not make his crime less serious or less dangerous,” Judge Lynch wrote.