UPDATE (22nd August 20:00 BST): Updated with comment from Ross Ulbricht attorney Joshua Dratel.


ross ulbricht, silk roadNew charges have been filed against Ross Ulbricht, the 30-year-old, Texas native accused of using the alias Dread Pirate Roberts to operate illicit online marketplace Silk Road.

Filed on 21st August, the charges include narcotics trafficking, distribution of narcotics by means of the Internet and conspiracy to traffic fraudulent identification documents.

The latest development in the case follows news that Ulbricht had lost his bid to dismiss the case this July. Ulbricht’s legal team had sought to remove certain money laundering charges levied by Federal prosecutors, arguing that bitcoins were not deemed to be money by the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Ulbricht’s attorney Joshua Dratel, of Joshua L. Dratel, PC, told CoinDesk that the while the US government has added new charges, this doesn’t represent a change in the nature of the evidence that will be provided in the case. Further, he said the defense will not need to conduct any additional discovery.

Dratel explained:

“If that is true, and it’s too early for us to draw a conclusion (having just received it yesterday), these additional charges simply demonstrate the government’s penchant for converting a single alleged course of conduct into a set of multiple similar, interchangeable charges in an effort to improve its chances of having a jury, overwhelmed by the sheer number of charges, agree with the government on at least one.”

Ulbricht was originally charged with drug trafficking, money laundering, computer hacking and for serving as the ‘kingpin‘ on a drug trafficking enterprise, charges he plead not guilty to on 7th February.

The latest filing adds more specifics to the accusations, alleging that Ulbricht personally distributed substances containing methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD and heroin, and conspired to sell fake ID documents, including passports and driver’s licenses.

Ulbricht is currently serving time in New York’s Metropolitan Detention Center, awaiting a trial set to begin 3rd November.

Support effort continues

The charge is also the latest blow to FreeRoss.org, the legal defense fund seeking to raise money for Ulbricht’s defense, as well as the group’s supporters.

Despite continued interest from the mainstream media regarding the case, Lyn Ulbricht, mother of the accused and manager of FreeRoss.org, indicated on 3rd July that this interest had not translated into an uptick in contributions.

Still, grassroots support from the bitcoin community for the group continues. On 7th July, noted bitcoin community member and angel investor Roger Ver started a twitter campaign for Ulbricht that promised $10 would be donated to FreeRoss.org for every retweet.

At press time on 7th July, Ver’s message of support had received more than 16,000 retweets.

Hat tip to The Guardian

Image via Mashable

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