Říj 08

U.S. Senate Candidate Vows to Speak with President Trump About Clemency for Ross Ulbricht

Ross Ulbricht could have a powerful voice advocating for his freedom if U.S. Senate Candidate Eric Brakey is elected.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, is a less than 4 years into his double life sentence for his involvement in running the Silk Road exchange. Since his conviction, a Change.org petition has advocated for a reduction or re-evaluation of his sentence — many view the punishment as cruel and unusual. Still, the chances of the petition succeeding are slim to none. Upon sentencing, the court tossed an additional 40 years on top of Ulbricht’s sentence, and he is not eligible for parole.

Ross Ulbricht

To date, nearly 84,465 people have signed the petition stating that Ulbricht’s investigation and sentencing violates his Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights. The number continues to grow. Furthermore, allegations of investigative corruption, prosecutorial misconduct, and constitutional rights violations are cited as reasons for Ulbricht either needing to receive clemency or the right to appeal his case before the Federal Courts.

While the odds of ever walking freely are certainly stacked against Ulbricht, a recent petition by a U.S. Senate candidate for the state of Maine could bring the possibility of freedom a tad bit closer for Ulbricht.

The Silk Road Lives On

Republican Senate candidate Eric Brakey (D-ME) recently tweeted that Ulbricht has, “very clearly been treated unfairly by our criminal justice system.” In addition to signing his change.org petition, Brakey found the fact that “the judge considered pending charges during sentencing that were later dismissed due to corruption by federal investigators […] terrible.” Brakey has promised to raise the issue with President Trump “when I win election to the U.S. Senate this November.” Ulbricht and Brakey have now exchanged a series of tweets, and Ulbricht affectionately refers to Brakey as his “new favorite Senate candidate”.

The Supreme Courts Adds an Extra Nail to the Coffin

In June of 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Ulbricht’s petition for a writ of certiorari. This essentially permanently prevents Ulrich from appealing his punishment before the Supreme Court. This move motivated the Libertarian Party to draft and pass a resolution appealing to President Trump to provide a full, unconditional pardon to Ulbricht. 

Sen. Eric Brakey (D-ME)

Ulbricht’s involvement with The Silk Road marred the public’s perception of cryptocurrency, but as blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption by the wider public and international businesses has grown, the negative image has begun to dissipate. Furthermore, a growing number of people are also beginning to question the severity of Ulbricht’s sentencing as the drug policies of numerous states change, and the nature of online marketplaces evolves.

Do you think Ross Ulbricht should receive clemency from President Trump? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, EricBrakey.com, Shutterstock.

Říj 03

US Government Nets $48 Million from Sale of Silk Road Bitcoins

· October 2, 2017 · 8:15 pm

The US government finally claimed $48 million USD earned from the sale of bitcoins seized from Silk Road, the online drug marketplace that was shut down in 2013.

It may have taken a couple of years, but the US government finally has their grasp on the money earned from their seizure and shut down of the notorious Silk Road marketplace. The online drug market was shut down in 2013, and the government seized a total of 144,336 bitcoins, which they auctioned off in 2014 and 2015. The holdup in getting the auction proceeds was a series of legal challenges from Ross Ulbricht, the original operator of Silk Road, that contested the legality of the seizure. Ulbricht has decided to drop his claims, which means that the US Justice Department now has $48 million USD in their pocket.

Silk Road shut down

Taking Down the Silk Road

The online Silk Road marketplace was a haven for anonymous transactions for all sorts of illicit goods and activities, particularly narcotics. The main figure associated with Silk Road was Ross Ulbricht, who went by the moniker of the Dread Pirate Roberts (from the movie The Princess Bride). The site began as an anonymous venture, requiring word-of-mouth for exposure. Yet eventually the site became more well known, with Ross Ulbricht even giving Forbes an interview. Eventually, the authorities took notice and went to work to take Silk Road and the Dread Pirate Roberts down.

The operation was a success, and the FBI managed to track down Ross Ulbricht by examining a number of counterfeit ID documents in packages coming from Canada to the same address in San Francisco. Silk Road was shut down (even though other versions have popped up), and Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for money laundering, computer hacking, and conspiracy to traffic narcotics.

Ross Ulbricht fake IDs

Timing is Always Important

Now we get to the part of the story where Bitcoin holders will shed some copious tears. The US Justice Department sold off the 144,336 bitcoins seized for an average of $334 each back in 2014 and 2015. If they had waited until Ross Ulbricht finally dropped his claim about illegal seizure, those same bitcoins would net around $630 million today.

As for the $48 million USD, there’s no word on where exactly the money will go. It could go to the FBI, IRS, or even the US Treasury. Of course, one can assume that the money will be wasted as the federal government is rarely a good advocate of financial responsibility.

What do you think about the US government finally getting the $48 million raised from selling 144,336 bitcoins? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.