A Disastrous Week for Ulbricht as Silk Road Trial Continues (Week 2 Roundup)
As sittings on the Silk Road trial entered the second week, federal prosecutors presented a pile of evidence detailing the early days of the iconic digital black market.
As sittings on the Silk Road trial entered the second week, federal prosecutors presented a pile of evidence detailing the early days of the iconic digital black market. Revelations included the website creator's personal notes and the birth of the operator's alter-ego Dread Pirate Roberts.
Matters are not looking good for Ross Ulbricht, the alleged mastermind behind the dark-market website, while the trial is quickly shaping up to become the most fascinating Bitcoin-related trial to date.
Arguably worst of all for Ulbricht is the evidence found on his laptop computer, which FBI agents snatched from his desk while they distracted him in a San Francisco public library in September 2013. Most importantly, this evidence included a folder named “journal,” which chronicled the history of Silk Road from the perspective of its operator.
That's right. Ulbricht seemingly kept an extensive digital record of his actions and thoughts during the years he ran the famed digital black marketplace in 2011 and 2013. Why? The journal’s author recorded the reason:
"Some day I may have a story written about my life and it would be good to have a detailed account of it."
Based on this journal, the creator of the Silk Road had a very firm grasp of what he was building. "The idea was to create a website where people could buy anything, anonymously, with no trail," one entry from Ulbricht's computer read, while another account described the sale of self-grown magic mushrooms, and stated:
"Silk Road will become a phenomenon and at least one person will tell me about it, unknowing that I was its creator."
Another entry mentioned how the Silk Road saw a huge boost in sales because of a Gawker story, followed by another entry suggesting that Ulbricht, or whoever wrote the journal, decided to hire employees after earning about US$25,000 a month and US$100,000 in total.
Prosecutors also presented a plethora of chat logs from both the Silk Road forum as well as Gchat. According to these chat messages, Ulbricht—or whoever wrote as “myself”—had even bigger plans for Silk Road: the online dark market was supposed to be just the start of a dark net emporium.
Ulbricht allegedly planned to turn Silk Road into a brand, including Silk Road messaging tools, a Silk Road exchange, and even a Silk Road credit union. And, more importantly perhaps, the author of the chat messages at one point identified himself as “DPR,” the initials of Dread Pirate Roberts.
The blows to Ulbricht's defense this week followed a spectacular first week of sittings, in which Ulbricht's attorney Joshua Dratel shocked friend and foe by