Friends and family of Ross Ulbricht have raised more than $1m to pledge as bail money for the release of the alleged Silk Road owner.
The 29-year-old was arrested in early October and the FBI closed down the online black market, which was hosted on the so-called ‘dark web’ and was used to buy and sell drugs, weapons and other illegal goods and services.
A letter, dated 19th November, from Ulbricht’s defence attorney Joshua Dratel asks Southern District of New York judge Kevin Fox to grant Ulbricht bail at his upcoming hearing, which is scheduled for 21st November at 11:00 ET.
The letter details that, if released, Ulbricht will live with his aunt in New York. It also lists a number of reasons why the attorney believes Ulbricht should be granted bail, including:
Mr Ulbricht’s peaceful character and reputation for fulfilling his obligations, as set forth in letters from his family and friends who stand by him despite the allegations.
Dratel also highlights that Ulbricht is not likely to flee the US, doesn’t have a criminal record and is charitable in nature – he founded a company that donated books to prison libraries.
He writes that Ulbricht, who allegedly went by the name of Dread Pirate Roberts, has been held in solitary confinement at Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center and has been denied access to Corrlinks, a prison email system.
Friend and family support
The letter details some of the comments about Ulbricht from his friends and family, with one friend stating that, even from a young age, Ulbricht “demonstrated a positive character, responsibility, and commitment to his studies and family”.
More than 20 people have offered to pledge assets to assure his presence at future court hearings and his compliance with any condition the court imposes.
Those pledging their assets include his parents, sister, aunts, family friends and school friends.
Ulbricht’s parents have said they will pledge $700,000 in equity from their home, while his sister will pledge her savings of $36,600 and his aunt is offering up her home, in which she has $200,000 in equity.
Dratel’s 15-page letter concludes:
Accordingly, for all the reasons set forth above, it is respectfully submitted that the Court should grant bail in Mr Ulbricht’s case, and impose any restrictive conditions the Court deems necessary.
The size of Silk Road
When Ulbricht was arrested, the FBI seized 26,000 BTC, which, at the current price, is worth over $11.6m.
After Ulbricht’s first court hearing, on 6th November, Dratel indicated to reporters that his client is not the creator of Silk Road.
“The evidence can’t establish that he is who they say he is, or that he’s done what they say he’s done,” Dratel said.
He also labelled Ulbricht a “poster boy for bail,” and added that he would be willing to consider measures such as electronic monitoring.
Dratel has defended a number of relatively high-profile clients in the past, including Wadih el Hage, an Al Qaeda associate who was convicted of helping to orchestrate the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed a total of 224 people.
He also became the first civilian attorney to defend a Guantanamo case when he took on David Hicks as a client. Hicks was tried in Guantanamo Bay having been accused of fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan.
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