Somebody please tell the prosecution that the trial is over. They won it. They kept the jury from knowing about the extensive corruption of two Silk Road investigators and their unlimited access to the site. They kept defense witnesses from testifying. They hamstrung cross examination. They kept the jury and public from knowing the full story, which is still unknown, and Ross was convicted on all seven counts. They bagged their trophy.
What is enough for these people? Nothing short of a life sentence for non-violent offenses?
Now the government intends to submit at Ross’ sentencing May 29, that drugs bought from vendors on Silk Road caused six overdose deaths. These are vague, unproven allegations, the kind the prosecution seems to like. Even if true, they are saying that a web host — not even a seller — is responsible for how a product bought on a website is used and abused. It doesn’t take much foresight to see where that precedent could lead.
Chuck Schumer called for the closing of Silk Road as soon as possible, “before more harm is done.” Yet the government seized the server in June, 2013 and kept the site running for four more months. At least two of the overdose deaths occurred during the time that the government controlled the Silk Road server and permitted business as usual. Why, if they cared about potential harm?
To be clear, we don’t condone drug use or defend Silk Road. Our hearts go out to families who have lost a loved one through drug abuse. It’s a horrible tragedy. However, we do think it’s manipulative for the prosecution to exploit people’s grief to pursue their case. And possibly distract from recent revelations of corruption in the investigation.
Despite the allegations, the government has not provided:
- > Any evidence these drugs were actually purchased on Silk Road.
- > Medical records relating to underlying or pre-existing conditions of these people.
- > The actual cause of death of one of them.
- > Autopsy reports verifying types and quantities of drugs used by two of them.
- > Psychiatric records of one of them.
- > Underlying information used to create the Silk Road user summaries about two of these people, or who prepared them or when.
- > The identity of two people presenting at sentencing or the subject matter of their statements, but only that they are parents of people who overdosed on drugs allegedly bought on Silk Road.
In response, the defense:
- > Has submitted a discovery demand to learn these and other facts.
- > Points out the “harm reduction” impact of Silk Road, which experts say has saved lives.
- > Replies that not fully providing information is a due process violation. Ross has a right to review and prepare for this in advance, and to respond effectively.
- > Asked for a postponement of sentencing for one month, in order to prepare for this new onslaught, including the consultation with experts and identifying, locating and interviewing fact witnesses. A two-week postponement was granted.
Apparently the prosecution wants to make Ross an example and give him as long a sentence as possible. We were warned by more than one attorney that they do this. The more draconian the sentence, we were told, the better it looks on the resume. The mandatory minimum, two decades of a young man’s life – arguably the most productive, rewarding and important years he’ll have – just aren’t enough.
To address these allegations, and hopefully establish facts, there will be a Fatico Hearing on May 22, at 9 AM n Judge Katherine Forrest’s courtroom, #15A, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse, 500 Pearl St., New York, NY. Its purpose is for the judge to determine whether these new accusations should be considered in deciding punishment. The hearing is named for Carmine Fatico, a violent mobster who served five years.
Of course all this costs us dearly at a time when we are buried in debt from the trial. In addition to more attorney hours, we now must enlist expert, fact and other witnesses to defend against these allegations. Unlike the government, which apparently has unlimited money to throw at this, we do not. Please help us fight this onslaught and give what you can.