In a letter to Judge Katherine Forrest, Ross Ulbricht will plead for leniency at his May 29 sentencing following his conviction for the crime of being the owner and operator of the Silk Road online marketplace.
"Even now I understand what a terrible mistake I made. I’ve had my youth, and I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age.”
— Ross Ulbricht in a letter to Judge Forrest
The 31-year-old Ulbricht faces a mandatory minimum 20 years in prison and a maximum of life. He was found guilty on all seven felony counts based on being the creator of the anonymous online marketplace, under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR).
Ulbricht will be sentenced at 1:00 p.m. EST in Judge Forrest’s courtroom at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse in New York City. The charges are all non-violent. Ulbricht says in his letter that the Silk Road was “supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices and pursue their own happiness.”
Prosecutors in his trial sent the judge a 16-page letter requesting that Ulbricht be given “a lengthy sentence at his judgment on Friday, one substantially above the mandatory minimum.” The Department of Justice attorneys contend the motivation is to “send a clear message” to the Dark Web drug market.
Many in the crypto environment have been vocal about the case, which they see as an issue that is far bigger than Bitcoin. They believe the drug war is a fraud and that our Internet freedoms are at stake.
Before Ulbricht received his sentenced, many supporters wanted to speak out. In responses shared with Cointelegraph, members of the Bitcoin community commented on the case of the Silk Road and the upcoming sentencing.
CT: How do you feel about Ross’s letter to the judge and about the Silk Road trial as a whole?
Julia Tourianski (Founder of Brave The World): This is not the first time we have seen the assumed power structures cripple a peaceful individual to his knees, an individual forced to plead with the same entity that severed him from a society he wished to, and did, improve. And it will not be the last.
Blake Anderson (Member of the World Crypto Network and Bitcoin Consultant): The trial has been a heartbreaking bastardization of justice in virtually every way possible. From the extreme corruption of the agents creating crimes for which to try Ross, to the court’s inability to even fake a trial conducted in fairness with respect to the constitution.
Ross’s mother asked me in person, from a parent to a parent, to help with the complex computer data information being thrust on the family at extreme short notice. This data was supposed to be gone through to “construct a defense.” It was really a virtually “take these and prove he didn’t do it,” guilty until proven innocent situation. I agreed to do everything within my power to help but was unable to do so after my lawyer and business partners illustrated the risk to me personally at assisting the defense in a federal investigation.
I was very angry but given pause when I was told that the U.S. federal government convicts at a rate of 98%. A conviction rate like that means that things are being done outside the law on all sides to ensure that the system can handle all of the laws which have been created by the corpulent state. Once it came out that Ross was essentially framed completely by criminally motivated agents, I remembered being stunned that the maximally worst-case scenario imagined by my attorney was so accurate.
“This case is yet another among a litany of abject failures produced by the so-called War on Drugs.”
— Will Pangman
Will Pangman (COO of Tapeke.com): It is common knowledge that there was more than one DPR. Anyone who even remotely followed the trial could see that the jury was aggressively obstructed from knowing this and many other material facts. That Ross Ulbricht might be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in a cage for nonviolent “crimes” is a tragedy beyond measure.
My heart goes out to Lyn and the Ulbricht family. Ross, you are an incredible human being. This case is yet another among a litany of abject failures produced by the so-called War on Drugs. The truth is, Silk Road came closer to winning the War on Drugs than any government or law enforcement agency could ever hope to. No matter what happens with the appeal, this will be his legacy.
M.K. Lords (Managing Editor, Bitcoin Not Bombs): A crucial element of this case that can’t be overlooked is the fact that government agents manipulated and directly caused the scenarios that Ross Ulbricht was accused of perpetrating. That the defense was blocked at all angles from revealing trial-altering material is an abuse of justice, and the outcome has set a dangerous precedent for anyone who conducts business online or challenges the brutality of the war on drugs. The Silk Road was a revolutionary experiment that lowered violence in the drug trade and gave us a glimpse into what is not only a peaceful future but something that became an efficient, peaceful reality. One day, it will be common to wonder why people were caged for attempting to reduce violence in the drug trade, and not only wonder but demand it never happens again. My thoughts are with Lyn, Ross and the rest of the family as they continue to fight this gross injustice.
Daniel Krawisz (Director of Research at the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute): Ross may lose most of his life in prison, but in just a few years he did more for our liberty than most of us will do in our lifetimes, and one day he will be regarded as a hero who was wrongly imprisoned and people will regard statism with the same disgust and that we have today for chattel slavery.
Jason King (Founder of Sean's Outpost): “The first one through the wall always gets bloody.” That's a quote from the book and movie Moneyball. I think it's really appropriate for Ross Ulbricht. It's also kind of ironic. Ross has done more to stem blood and violence associated with the drug trade than any person in history. More than any law or war on drugs. And he did it in a peaceful manner, in a very short period of time. He should be getting awarded a peace prize.
Instead, he is quite possibly facing spending the rest of his life incarcerated. There is no value in sending Ross to prison. This whole situation just makes me very sad. But if there is any silver lining at all, I hope it is that people can finally see the government for what it is. A violent institution that doesn't want to make anything better, just perpetuate violence.
My heart goes out to you Ross. Thank you for what you have given to the world. We are all terribly ashamed at how bloody you have gotten for your gifts.
“He should be getting awarded a peace prize. Instead, he is quite possibly facing spending the rest of his life incarcerated. There is no value in sending Ross to prison.”
— Jason King
Roger Ver (First Bitcoin Startup Angel Investor): People own their own bodies and have the absolute right to put whatever they want inside of them. Billions of people across the planet choose to use drugs every day, from tobacco and alcohol, to heroin and cocaine. They do it because they enjoy them, and they think they make their lives better.
To think that other human beings, by writing down words on a piece of paper and calling it a law, could somehow strip away this fundamental right to self ownership is insanity. The police, DEA agents, judges, and other law enforcement officers that lock people in cages for the peaceful acts of buying, selling or using drugs are the real criminals, and need to stop. History will look back upon them with the same contempt we have today for slave owners of the past.
Marshall Hayner (Bitcoin Investor and Consultant): Typically when we label someone a criminal and send them to jail, we do so because we deem them unfit for modern society and they need “rehabilitation.” Unfortunately what we have frequently found is that jail is far from rehabilitating. In most cases, it further removes the person from functioning in society and destroys their chances of ever re-integrating.
Ross wasn’t your typical self-serving criminal. He was a “criminal” that wanted to show us a better world, a world in which an endless and pointless war on drugs would cease to exist. In a hundred years from now I don't believe Ross's crimes will still be considered illegal.
Tatiana Moroz (Singer, Songwriter and founder of TatianaCoin): It’s not a secret that I am a supporter of Ross Ulbricht. His experiment to create a free market was a great success, and gave Bitcoin a chance to prove its utility and value. It was providing people with what they wanted in a far safer environment through its rating system and means of delivery.
Meanwhile, the war on drugs has been an abysmal failure. It hasn’t stopped drug use. It has only exacerbated the problem. It wastes billions in taxpayer money. It’s impossible to calculate the cost of the lives destroyed in the streets.
I have gotten to know Ross's family. I can only imagine what they are going through, but their strength inspires me every day. They are some of the kindest, most decent, and most admirable people I have ever met. Lyn has used this horror for good by educating people about the drug war and the ineffectual destructive practices of the U.S. government.
I consider them friends, and am grateful for knowing them. Let us not forget that it was Ross’s quest for freedom that led to his imprisonment. It is not so very different from our own.