Timeline of the Silk Road Case

The Most Important Trial in America: If you care about due process, Fourth Amendment protections against illegal searches, the limits of government surveillance, and Internet freedom, you should pay attention.” – Nick Gillespie, Editor-in-Chief, Reason.com

I. Before Ross’s Arrest

February 2011
Silk Road is launched.

March 1, 2011
User “silkroadadvertises [PDF] Silk Road on bitcointalk.org.

June 2011
Chicago Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent Jared Der-Yeghiayan starts investigating [PDF] Silk Road.

June 5, 2011
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, calls for “crackdown” on Silk Road and use of Bitcoin.

Senator Chuck Schumer
November 11, 2011
Ross tells [PDF] Richard Bates he handed Silk Road off to a successor.

February 6, 2012
Silk Road admin announces his name [PDF] as Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR).

July 6, 2012
Der-Yeghiayan identifies [PDF] Mark Karpeles as the person behind Silk Road and Ashley Barr as DPR’s voice. Karpeles becomes a law enforcement target [PDF] .

August 3, 2012
Der-Yeghiayan tells [PDF]  Baltimore HSI agent Michael McFarland not to contact Karpeles or tell anyone he’s a target.
Der-Yeghiayan’s testimony [PDF] at trial
October 2012
Der-Yeghiayan discovers [PDF] McFarland informed the Baltimore task force, including known corrupt federal agents Carl Mark Force and Shaun Bridges, about Karpeles, and they’ve been “actively working” him and keeping him under surveillance.

January 17, 2013
Force and Secret Service / NSA agent Shaun Bridges arrest [PDF] Curtis Green, a senior Silk Road admin.

Carl Mark Force, DEA agent (left) – Shaun Bridges, NSA/Secret Service Agent (right)
January 25, 2013
Force and Bridges hijack Green’s admin account, use it to steal [PDF] from top Silk Road vendors, and blame it on Green.
According to Force, he and Bridges fake [PDF] Green’s death in sting operation.
Tweet by Curtis Green, alleged “victim” of murder-for-hire
March 2013
National Security Agency (NSA) works “urgently” to “track down” bitcoin users, according to classified documents provided by Edward Snowden.

May 10, 2013
Bridges goes “rogue” [PDF] with the help of AUSA Richard Kay and seizes $2 million from Karpeles. He did this intentionaly to tip Karpeles off [PDF] that “the US government had him on its radar.”

June 2013
FBI special agent Christopher Tarbell “gets” [PDF] Silk Road server IP address.

The Intercept article, March 20, 2018
July 11, 2013
AUSA Richard Kay meets [PDF] with Karpeles’ attorneys who offer him an alternate target for DPR in exchange for Karpeles’s immunity

July 26, 2013
Someone from Baltimore office sells inside law enforcement info [PDF] to DPR as “notwonderful”.

August 14, 2013
DPR reveals he inherited Silk Road from its original creator.

August 15, 2013 to [unknown]
Someone with access to the evidence gathered by the government destroys [PDF] several copies of conversation between “notwonderful” and DPR.

August 15, 2013
Der-Yeghiayan swears under oath [PDF] that Karpeles is DPR and submits a sealed search warrant for his email accounts.

Forbes interviewbetween Greenberg and DPR, Aug 14, 2013
September 20, 2013

  • Using Ross’s email address “found [PDF] by IRS agent Gary Alford on Karpeles’s forum (bitcointalk.org) and using pen register / trap and trace devices (pen traps), AUSA Serrin Turner gathers Ross’s internet traffic information without a warrant [PDF] and tracks him down.
Excerpt [PDF] from the Supreme Court petition
  • HSI Chicago and Der-Yeghiayan capitulate [PDF] and turn over case to Southern District of New York and prosecutor Preetinder Bharara, longtime special counsel to Sen. Chuck Schumer.

II. Pre-Trial

October 1, 2013

  • Ross arrested in San Francisco and put in solitary confinement.
  • Silk Road marketplace taken offline.
  • District of Maryland issues indictment, including attempted murder charges based on evidence of corrupt DEA agent Force (imprisoned in March 2015).
Lead Prosecutor Preetinder Bharara
November 5, 2013
Ross arrives in Southern District of New York to face charges.

November 18, 2013
DPR logs into his Silk Road forum account for the last time, over six weeks after Ross was arrested.

November 20, 2013
Ross released from solitary confinement into general prison population.

November 21, 2013
Ross denied bail.

November 22, 2013
Silk Road forum taken down.

Illustration: Cointelegraph
February 4, 2014
Ross indicted [PDF] on four counts. Indictment does not include murder-for-hire charges.
March 29, 2014
Joshua Dratel, Ross’s attorney, challenges [PDF] the indictment as unconstitutional and unfair.

July 9, 2014
District Court Judge Katherine Forrest denies [PDF] challenge to indictment.

August 1, 2014
Dratel calls [PDF] for evidentiary hearing to investigate how FBI Agent Christopher Tarbell found Silk Road server.

August 2014
Ross finally given complete access to discovery totaling approximately four terabytes (equivalent to 2.5 billion typed, single-spaced pages).

DailyDot article, Oct 22, 2014
September 5, 2014

“Many of us believe it wasn’t the FBI who discovered the hidden Silk Road server, but the NSA (or other intelligence organization). We believe the FBI is using “parallel construction,” meaning creating a plausible story of how they found the server to satisfy the courts, but a story that isn’t true” – Robert Graham, well-known cybersecurity expert

IB Times article, Sept 8, 2014
October 10, 2014

October 27, 2014
New York Senator Schumer publicly congratulates the Department of Justice for arresting the “Silk Road operator” before the New York trial had even begun.

October – December 2014
Court-ordered access to laptop and discovery evidence is repeatedly blocked by prison.

December 12, 2014
Defense is deprived of the witness list.

Lyn Ulbricht: What’s at stake in Ross’s case
December 15, 2014

  • Investigation into Force sealed [PDF]. Judge Forrest precludes evidence of corrupt agent activity from trial.
  • Judge Forrest denies [PDF] defense request that trial be postponed so jury can be informed of the corruption.

January 1, 2015
More than 5,000 pages of relevant material about Der-Yeghiayan’s investigation dumped [PDF] on Ross and his defense less than two weeks before trial.

January 2015
Ross moved to Metropolitan Correctional Center, Manhattan, New York.

Judge Katherine Forrest. Illustration: Reuters

III. Trial

January 13, 2015
Ross’s trial begins, presided over by Judge Forrest (recommended for the bench by Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2011).

January 20, 2015

Protesters at Ross’s trial in NYC
February 2, 2015
Expert defense witnesses Andreas Antonopolous and Stephen Bellovin not allowed to testify [PDF].

February 3, 2015

  • Evidence proving existence of multiple DPRs as well as Ross’s ignorance regarding laptop contents suppressed [PDF]
  • Conversation between notwonderful and DPR suppressed [PDF].
Forbes article, Jan 20, 2015
February 4, 2015
Ross is found guilty [PDF] on all counts.

“This ruling is bad news for future entrepreneurs seeking to build online marketplaces. At any moment … the U.S. government could tell a story that the online marketplace is part of a giant conspiracy by helping illegal transactions; and on that theory, seize the business…and threaten the founders with the prospect of years or decades in jail.” – Eric Goldman, Forbes

IV. Post-Trial and Sentencing

March 31, 2015
Corruption of Silk Road investigation revealed.

“The complete scope of what former SA’s Force and Bridges were able to accomplish with the illicit access they gained to the Silk Road website, and its impact on this case, has yet to be determined.” – Joshua Dratel, lead trial attorney

April 16, 2015
Dratel files motion [PDF] for new trial (and this one [PDF] too) based on the fact that AUSA Turner hid corrupt agent Bridges from the defense and the judge.

Corrupt agent played the single biggest role in the most damning charges leveled against Ross.
April 27, 2015
Judge Forrest denies [PDF] motion for new trial.

May 26, 2015
Ross writes sentencing letter [PDF] addressed to Judge Forrest pleading to leave him his old age.

“Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices, to pursue their own happiness, however they individually saw fit.” – Ross in sentencing letter [PDF] to Judge Forrest

Ross’s parents after the sentencing
May 29, 2015
Sentencing [PDF].

“Ulbricht’s life sentence won’t deter others from giving Americans access to the drugs they want. It won’t “protect” society. It won’t “serve justice” … It will just waste another life.”  – Henry Blodget, CEO/Editor-in-Chief, Business Insider

Double life plus 40 years, without the possibility of parole, on five non-violent charges.

June 9, 2015
Government issues a grand jury subpoena/gag order to Reason.com to turn over identities of people who commented on Ross’s sentence.

V. Appeal

“If only 10% of what Lyn said about the trial and the events leading up to the trial are true,there should be a reversal. As a former prosecutor, I am appalled at what the federal government has done to Ross.” – Former prosecutor, after seeing Porcfest speech

January 14, 2016
Appeal [PDF] submitted to Second Circuit.

Jan 28, 2016
Bridges arrested again trying to flee the country to avoid jail sentence.

February 20, 2016
Edward Snowden publicly states that we should assume that the NSA was involved in gathering evidence in Ross’s case.

Ross’s 170-page appeal brief [PDF] is twice the size of a normal appeal brief
March 15, 2016
Appeal brief joined by six amici:

Edward Snowden: NSA was involved in Silk Road investigation
August 1, 2016
Defense replies [PDF] to government.

October 6, 2016
Oral arguments.

November 29, 2016 Tampering of evidence announced.

“That my son — or anyone — would receive a life sentence based on such vulnerable evidence, especially when there is proof of corruption and tampering, is a travesty of justice.” – Lyn Ulbricht

Motherboard article, Nov 29, 2016
December 1, 2016
Log-in by Dread Pirate Roberts after Ross arrested announced.

May 29, 2017
Appeal denied [PDF].

July 14, 2017
Ross moved to USP Florence, CO, a maximum security penitentiary.

July 31, 2017
Petition [PDF] to Second Circuit to re-hear appeal filed.

  • First Amendment violations at sentencing
  • Unconstitutional warrants
  • Warrantless surveillance

August 29, 2017
Petition to re-hear denied by Second Circuit without comment.

Motherboard article, Dec 1, 2016

VI. Supreme Court Petition

Overview with links and highlights from the petition and amicus briefs.

December 22, 2017
Defense led by Kannon Shanmugam files petition for Writ of Certiorari [PDF] asking Supreme Court to review the decision of the lower courts.

February 5, 2018
Petition for writ joined by the following amici (21 organizations):

United States Supreme Court Building

February 5, 2018

  • Judge Forrest denies unopposed motion [PDF] to extend deadline to submit newly-discovered evidence.
  • Judge Forrest denies motion [PDF] for her to recuse herself.

March 7, 2018
Defense Attorney Paul Grant files petition for Writ Of Mandamus [PDF] to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

March 20, 2018
Defense led by Kannon Shanmugam files reply [PDF] to government in support of Supreme Court cert petition.