Ross Ulbricht Pleads Not Guilty to New Drug Charges

Pete Rizzo
Sep 5, 2014 at 23:00 UTC
Updated Oct 3, 2014 at 11:58 UTC

UPDATE (8th September 15:30 BST): Article updated with comment from Ross Ulbricht’s legal defense.


ross ulbrichtRoss Ulbricht, the accused ringleader of the now-defunct online black marketplace Silk Road, has plead not guilty to a series of new charges levied against him by federal prosecutors.

Filed on 21st August, the charges include narcotics trafficking, conspiracy to traffic fraudulent identification documents and distribution of narcotics by means of the Internet. Those charges followed previous allegations that Ulbricht had engaged in drug trafficking, computer hacking, money laundering and engaging in a criminal enterprise.

The 30-year-old Texas native appeared in a Manhattan federal court today to answer to the charges issued in the latest indictment, Bloomberg reports.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Ulbricht’s attorney Joshua Dratel, of the law firm Joshua L Dratel, PC, said that this latest plea is consistent with Ulbricht’s position throughout the case, that he is not guilty of all charges.

Dratel told CoinDesk:

“We continue to have complete and unwavering confidence in the result at trial, which will establish that Ross is not guilty of each and very charge.”

Ulbricht’s trial is set to begin 3rd November.

Case updates continue

The news of Ulbricht’s latest plea followed an update in another long-standing court case that has garnered headlines in the bitcoin space.

On 4th September, both former BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem and former Silk Road operator Robert Faiella plead guilty to separate charges, each agreeing to pay $950,000 in damages to the US government under the terms of the deal.

Faiella allegedly ran an underground bitcoin exchange through the Silk Road website. He and Shrem exchanged nearly $1m in cash for bitcoins that would be help facilitate transactions for Silk Road users.

Speaking to CoinDesk earlier this week, Shrem framed the plea deal as the first step in moving forward from the charges that have held back his ability to interact with the broader bitcoin community.

Unlike Ulbricht, Shrem, who currently serves as a business development advisor for bitcoin buying service Payza, will not go to trial.

His future will be decided at a 20th January sentencing hearing, and he faces up to 60 months in prison for aiding and abetting an unlicensed money-transmitting business.

Dark markets evolve

Notably, despite the demise of Silk Road, recent reports suggest that the shutdown has done little to stem the bitcoin-enabled online drug trade.

Online black market Agora, which operates using the Tor network and accepts only bitcoin payments, now has 200 more listings than Silk Road 2.0, the successor to the illicit business Ulbricht is accused of heading, Wired reports.

The media outlet suggests that Agora has been able to dominate the market due to security breaches that have affected its major competitors such as Silk Road 2.0 and Cannabis Road.

Hat tip to Wired

Image via RollingStone

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