Unlike many murderers, rapists, child pornographers and violent offenders, Ross – with a totally clean record and no history of violence – was denied bail on Nov 21, 2013. He had been convicted of nothing.
Weeks of intense, hard work, blended with emotional torment, led up to the bail hearing. We labored long hours to present the court with a substantial bail package , including 70 letters strongly attesting to Ross’s character (a record in his attorney’s long experience).
We raised over a million dollars in bail commitments and pledges from friends and family. These were not wealthy people easily writing a check. It represented the life savings, homes and property of regular people, many with few assets. They did not take this risk merely because they love Ross. They did it because they trust him.
And they trust him because he has demonstrated throughout his life that he is a reliable man of integrity.
Some of the typical comments regarding bail were:
“I have pledged all my savings because I know and trust Ross. I cannot emphasize enough that trustworthiness and reliability are at the core of who Ross is.”
“I am putting up my life’s savings towards the bail effort. I would be ruined if I were to lose this money. But I know Ross, and I have total faith in him and his promise not to flee.”
“We are putting up our house toward Ross’s bail. I would never consider jeopardizing the roof over our heads if I didn’t think Ross was completely trustworthy.”
These letters came from different countries and all age groups: from friends, family and people who have known Ross throughout his life. “Individuals from all aspects and time periods of Mr. Ulbricht’s life affirm that his reliability and integrity have been constants throughout his life,” Ross’s lawyer wrote in the letter to the court.
Yet we were stunned to hear the prosecutor, Serrin Turner, dismiss these people by declaring that every one of us don’t know Ross! We, who have known him well all his life, wondered how Mr. Turner could possibly presume this and state it in court as fact. As one family member later wrote: “I was shocked in disbelief, listening to the federal prosecutor’s extensive recitation of unproven allegations.”
We found it interesting timing that five new murder-for-hire accusations were revealed on that day, only to be dropped a few months later. Ross’s attorney received this information only the evening before, making it impossible for him to discuss it with Ross and challenge it at the hearing. Of course, as with the first one, there are no bodies connected to these allegations, and four years later there still are not.
Ross’s attorney made the case that people charged with serious offenses have been granted bail for decades. He pointed out that if Ross didn’t flee in the past, he would not flee now, when it would devastate his family. “If he’s supposed to be this criminal mastermind that they’re alleging, he would have run after DHS agents interviewed him at his home in July.” he said.
The denial of bail was the beginning of a long, and perpetually stunning, schooling in how the government, courts and prosecutors operate.