Silk Road Accused Ulbricht Pleads Not Guilty, Begins Long Defense

Ross Ulbricht has responded to his formal indictment with a not guilty plea, and will review evidence against him.

Feb 7, 2014 at 9:55 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 10:20 a.m. UTC

Ross Ulbricht, the Texas native arrested in San Francisco last October in relation to the Silk Road online black marketplace, has entered a formal plea of 'not guilty' to all charges.

The indictment hearing for the man accused of being the site's 'Dread Pirate Roberts' comes after more than 120 days in detention and interestingly, did not include any of the (up to) six alleged attempts to murder Silk Road cohorts by contract, none of which resulted in an actual death.

The hearing and not-guilty plea comes after Ulbricht was formally indicted last Tuesday on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, computer hacking and of being the 'kingpin' on a drug trafficking enterprise.

The last charge, distinct from mere drug trafficking, is aimed at organized crime bosses and actually the most severe one Ulbricht faces. Anyone found guilty of that particular crime faces a minimum and mandatory 20 year prison sentence.

Defense strategy begins now

The main trial has not yet begun. With the indictment hearing done, It's now up to Ulbricht and his team to start building a defence. It won't be a small task: the prosecution is bound to throw all its resources into such a novel and high-profile case, and the Feds have reportedly collected 8-10 terabytes of evidence that includes the entirety of Silk Road's digital operation.

The defense team, including Ulbricht himself, will have a few months to review all that evidence. Ulbricht’s lawyer, Joshua Dratel, hinted the team may focus on the means used to gather the evidence and surveil Ulbricht's activities.

As reported in Forbes, this could show that some of the NSA's surveillance techniques were used to investigate the Silk Road case, bringing them and the question of their legal validity in such cases to the forefront.

Dratel also added on Tuesday that the indictment, together with the new 'kingpin' charge, "does not contain any new factual allegations."

Returning bitcoin treasure

A legal defense fund for Ulbricht on Crowdtilt has raised just over $10,000 (though its target is $500,000). He was denied a $1m bail proposal in November on the grounds he represented a serious flight risk.

Ulbricht has also formally claimed to have 29,000 BTC returned to him, part of the 170,000 BTC the Feds seized. Presumably this means he will claim the bitcoins had nothing to do with anything illegal and attempt to break the usual official allegations that bitcoin's popularity is thanks in part to its black market utility.

Another, UK-based, merchant who sold accessories on Silk Road also intends to claim 100 BTC in seized funds, saying his activities were not illegal.

Pirate treasure image via Shutterstock

The Festival for the Decentralized World
Thursday - Sunday, June 9-12, 2022
Austin, Texas
Save a Seat Now

DISCLOSURE

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Trending

1
CoinDesk - Unknown
GameStop Unveils Crypto Wallet, Beeple’s Twitter Account Latest to Fall to Phishing Scam Hack and More

The most valuable crypto stories for Thursday, May 23, 2022.

The most valuable crypto stories for Thursday, May 23, 2022.

CoinDesk - Unknown
2
CoinDesk - Unknown
First Mover Asia: Funds Lost Billions in the Terra Collapse. Here are the Ongoing Effects; Bitcoin Sees Red

When a fund suffers a major dent to its token, the impact reverberates widely throughout the venture funding eco-system; most major cryptos fell despite gains in U.S. equity markets.

When a fund suffers a major dent to its token, the impact reverberates widely throughout the venture funding eco-system; most major cryptos fell despite gains in U.S. equity markets.

CoinDesk - Unknown
3
CoinDesk - Unknown
At Davos, Crypto Is No Longer on the Outside

Cryptocurrencies have taken a prominent role at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, despite the mainstream finance world's apparent contempt for the sector.

Cryptocurrencies have taken a prominent role at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, despite the mainstream finance world's apparent contempt for the sector.

CoinDesk - Unknown
4
CoinDesk - Unknown
Wall Street Says a Fed Digital Dollar Spells Destruction for Banks

The Federal Reserve is considering whether to launch a CBDC like other nations, and bankers argue that’s a dangerous idea.

The Federal Reserve is considering whether to launch a CBDC like other nations, and bankers argue that’s a dangerous idea.

CoinDesk - Unknown