The Community Responds on the Day Before the Sentencing of Ross Ulbricht

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. 

Ross with his family

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.

M.K. Lords

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.