Silk Road Founder’s Trial Begins In NYC

January 13, 2015 | Rhett Jones

The trial of the alleged founder of the online black market, Silk Road, begins on Tuesday in Manhattan and it has already been an unusual case. Ross William Ulbricht, who the federal government claims also went by Dread Pirate Roberts, will face a string of charges in New York, but he is also being charged in a murder-for-hire case that will be heard in Baltimore on a later date. Despite protests from Ulbricht’s lawyer, the judge presiding over his case in Manhattan has ruled to allow evidence about the six murder plots that will be reviewed in the Maryland court.

According to NBC News, the judge had this to say:

“To be sure, the evidence is prejudicial to Ulbricht, and it does inject an element of violence into the case,” Forrest wrote in an opinion letting the evidence be shown to jurors. “However, the prejudicial effect is reduced by the government’s stipulation that no actual murders were carried out.”

She added: “The charges in this case are extremely serious: Ulbricht is charged not with participating in a run-of-the-mill drug distribution conspiracy, but with designing and operating an online criminal enterprise of enormous scope, worldwide reach, and capacity to generate tens of millions of dollars in commissions. Evidence that defendant sought to protect this sprawling enterprise by soliciting murders-for-hire is, in this overall context, not unduly prejudicial.”

Ulbricht was arrested on Oct. 1, 2013, in the science fiction section of a public library in San Francisco. FBI agents then raided the accused man’s house and they claim to have found evidence on his computer that proved him to be the legendary founder of what was at the time, the world’s largest online black market. One piece of evidence they claim was on Ulbricht’s computer was a spreadsheet that listed “sr inc” as an asset worth $104 million.

The charges against Ulbricht include operating a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiring to commit narcotics trafficking, money laundering and computer hacking. In the murder-for-hire case, federal agents claim that the accused man hired a Silk Road user named “redandwhite” to carry out six hits on people that were believed to be a threat for various reasons. Ulbricht faces life in prison if he is convicted of all charges.

(Photo: Silk Road)