Lyn Ulbricht, tells the story of her son’s landmark case. Ross Ulbricht was the publisher of the Silk Road website hosted in the Dark Web, notorious for selling illegal drugs.
Lyn notes Ross was not charged with selling drugs. He created and ran a website, which was a platform for people to sell whatever they wanted to, as long as the merchandise was deemed “victimless”; i.e., it was not stolen goods, not child p0rnography, not the services of hitmen, etc.
There were drugs sold, she says, “Mostly marijuana.”
For this, Ross was sentenced to 2 life sentences plus 40 years, without the possibility of parole, all for non-violent charges; no victims came forward to testify that he’d harmed them in any way. He was essentially sentenced to life for running a website. She emphasizes that he’s not a danger to anyone.
Ross’ stated goal in founding the site was to apply what he’d learned about Austrian Economics while studying at the University of Pennsylvania. his wish was to “Use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and aggression amongst mankind” and he claimed “I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force.”
Ross’ personal net worth peaked at $28.5 million, between the February 2011 founding of the site and the October 2013 seizure of the site and his subsequent imprisonment.
His sentence was exceedingly stiff, given that many murderers and rapists get much lighter sentences than this.
There was a great deal of malfeasance in this case, so Ross is mounting an appeal. Two Federal agents who were “investigating” Ross embezzled over million dollars from users of the site. They may have tampered evidence on the site and their existence was not admitted as evidence in the trial.
The agents were both master hackers and they commandeered accounts, they conducted, altered and deleted chats, they had access to bank accounts, they changed passwords, etc. They are also both in jail for corruption, serving a fraction of Ross’ sentence.
Lyn gives more details on this travesty of justice and talks about what we can do to help undo this legal precedent.