Two years ago, Ross Ulbricht, “Dread Pirate Roberts, the creator of Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for creating and running the Silk Road, a massive dark web bazaar where users could buy and sell drugs and other illicit items, often using bitcoin.
Ross was accused of money laundering, computer hacking, and conspiracy to traffic narcotics. He was also charged with procuring murder; which was later dropped.
A recent Reason magazine article headlined the Silk Road decision and the story behind it, which prompted my calling Ross Ulbricht’s mother Lyn (who moved to Colorado last year to be near Ross, who is in a federal maximum security prison near Colorado Springs).
Lyn shared with me, “We are pleased that the prosecutors in the District of Maryland, after almost five years, have dismissed their indictment against Ross. Holding this over Ross’ head, without taking it to trial where he could defend himself, has been very damaging to Ross and his case, especially because it contained the only charge of murder-for-hire. Of course, this charge was never proven or convicted, but was very effective in smearing Ross’s reputation and hurting him in the legal process”.
She said, “We had some good news recently. The indictment and superseding indictment against Ross in the District of Maryland were dismissed ‘with prejudice,’ meaning they can never be re-filed. This is especially good because those indictments contained the only charge ever made that Ross engaged in murder-for-hire. This was a serious allegation that Ross denies. It was never prosecuted or ruled on by a jury but was trumpeted by the government and the media as if it were proven fact”.
Lyn is actively campaigning for a “fair” trial ,”We are now hopeful for a commutation of Ross’s draconian sentence from the president and urge people to sign the petition asking for clemency”.(FreeRoss.org).
I also spoke to Terry Brock, CPAE, an international consultant and expert in crypto currencies and Co-Host with Lyn Ulbricht of the “Free Ross-A-Thon” which raised over $50,000, brought in over 14,000 people, and interviewed over 30 celebrities in this field. This action helped to get Ross’ case considered by the US Supreme Court.
Terry has this to say, “Many feel that Ross Ulbricht received a severely draconian sentence (2 life terms with no chance of parole), plus 40 years, and a $183 million fine) and he committed no violence on anyone. He built a website that was designed to take violence out of the marketplace which worked to help healing of drug users rather than incarcerating them”.
Join us once again to learn more about the story behind Silk Road and how this impacts the first and fourth amendment.
Since this program was taped, an appellate court denied an application from his legal team. Ross has received two life sentences without parole. This last weekend I interviewed Lyn Ulbricht, who is actively campaigning for a “fair” trial and his release and Terry Brock, CPAE, international management consultant and advocate of free enterprise, who spearheaded the highly successful Rossathon, which raised money for Ross’ defense.
Silk Road quickly became a financial phenomenon, supposedly earning $100 million in sales its first year. Ross believed that drugs sold legally can save lives.
Joining host Dennis McCuistion to talk about Ross, Silk Road and what led to a lifetime imprisonment sentence are:
- Lyn Ulbricht: Ross’ mother and the CEO of the Ross Ulbricht Defense Fund; now an advocate for Constitutional practices, individual liberty and privacy.
- Israel Martinez: CEO, Axon Global, Chairman of the Global Manufacturing ISAO.
- Stephen Duke: North American Events Manager at Students for Liberty and former board member, Students For a Sensible Drug Policy and
- Major Neill Franklin: Executive Dir., Law Enforcement Action Partnership.
Left to Right: Stephen Duke and Israel Martinez
Ross’ case some say will impact first and fourth amendment protection as well as Internet freedom and privacy. It brings attention to Block chain technology, as Bitcoin was used for purchases. And it focuses attention on the war on drugs and drug prohibition policies, which our experts claim has failed and failed miserably.
What is the truth behind Silk Road? Was it a marketplace for buying drugs safely, or is there more to this story? And how did a marketplace like this lead to its founder receiving such a harsh prison sentence?
Since our taping of this program, Ross’ appeal was lost. “Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his role in creating and running Silk Road’s billion-dollar, anonymous black market for drugs. Judge Katherine Forrest gave Ulbricht the most severe sentence possible, beyond what even the prosecution had explicitly requested.
The three-judge appellate panel nonetheless affirmed the decision of the lower court-albeit with notes of muted criticism of American drug laws.
“Reasonable people may and do disagree about the social utility of harsh sentences for the distribution of controlled substances, or even of criminal prohibition of their sale and use at all, “the appellate court’s opinion reads. “It is very possible that, at some future point, we will come to regard these policies as tragic mistakes and adopt less punitive and more effective methods of reducing the incidence and costs of drug use.”
“At this point in our history, however, the democratically-elected representatives of the people have opted for a policy of prohibition, backed by severe punishment,” the judges writes.
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Thanks for joining us,
Co-Founder, Executive Producer, Producer
Business Consultant / Executive Coach, specializing in Organizational Culture Change, Governance and Strategic Planning