Smeared With False Allegations

The prosecution used unproven, unprosecuted allegations of planning violence that never actually occurred to deny Ross bail, smear him in the media, bias his jurors, and justify the draconian sentence he ultimately received. Ross always denied the allegations and those who know him never believed them. Left untouched for years in a separate indictment, the allegations were finally dismissed with prejudice by the District of Maryland on July 20, 2018.

“It’s good that the charges have been dropped, but the government’s careless use of them as a media weapon to destroy Ulbricht’s reputation and to encourage the sentencing judge to be far harsher than the crimes he was convicted on actually would warrant have alas already done their damage.”
– Brian Doherty, Reason.[1]

Tweet by Ross Ulbricht, July 27, 2018

New York Indictment: All Non-Violent Charges

When Ross was arrested on October 1, 2013, the prosecution alleged that he planned violence, and the New York prosecutor used the allegations at Ross’s bail hearing to claim that Ross was too dangerous to be granted bail.

Yet, when Ross was indicted a few months later on February 4, 2014, the allegations were absent from the indictment.[2][3] The New York prosecution never charged Ross for violence. All the charges at trial were non-violent.

Maryland Indictment: Never Prosecuted and Dismissed with Prejudice

“By leaving it unprosecuted for almost five years―and Ross under a cloud of unproven allegations―the Maryland AUSA poisoned Ross’s case.”
 Lyn Ulbricht, Reason.[4]

For almost five years, one pending indictment in Maryland was left untouched. It contained the only allegations of violence ever filed against Ross. On July 20, 2018, the District of Maryland moved to dismiss the indictment with prejudice, meaning the charges can never be re-filed.[5][6]

Reason, July 25, 2018
Corrupt DEA agent Carl Force

The prosecution was never able to prove Ross authored any of the online anonymous chats and text files the accusations relied on. In addition, Maryland is where rampant corruption occurred and the allegations were based on information provided by corrupt agent Carl Mark Force—now in prison—who had unfettered access to Silk Road and admittedly took over accounts and “sought deliberately to undermine the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”[7][8] Carl Force and Shaun Bridges, another corrupt agent, had admin privileges to Silk Road, meaning they could usurp control of any account, including that of DPR, and change anything in the Silk Road database, such as forum posts and chat messages.[9][10]

In a 2018 public interview, Curtis Green, a top-level Silk Road administrator, revealed how his chat logs had been manipulated, presumably by Bridges or Force.

“I went through all my old posts from me, and I didn’t write that…It looked totally foreign to me…It didn’t ring a bell…And it was all very detrimental, it made me look bad.” [11]

In the same interview, Green added:

“When I saw the [murder-for-hire] transcripts,” they were “[in line with Force’s] narrative, exactly what he portrayed. So was it there or did they put it there?” [12]

Excerpt of Curtis Green’s interview,
August 8, 2018
Tweetby Curtis Green, alleged “victim”
The now-dismissed indictment referenced the alleged planned “murder” of Curtis Green. When the government filed a criminal complaint against Force in March 2015, it revealed that Force had “faked Green’s death,” and as with the other accusations, no one was actually killed.[11][12]

Curtis Green himself publicly stated he doesn’t think Ross ordered a hit on anyone and his a fervent supporter.[13]

Additionally, there is hard evidence and testimony—even from the government’s lead investigator—proving that multiple people operated the top admin DPR account.

“The government did not produce a single witness to testify firsthand that Ross authored any of the communications attributable to DPR.
– Joshua Dratel, Criminal Defense Attorney

Allegations Used at Sentencing

“While the [Maryland] charge was never anything more than an unproven accusation, it seemed to be constantly given more weight than was justified.”
 Trevor Hill, BitsOnline.[14]

Even though the unproven allegations were not part of Ross’s charges at trial, the judge permitted the prosecution to speak at length about those at trial, despite the defense’s protest that this would prejudice the jury. And at sentencing, in violation of the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, the judge used these false allegations, that had never been ruled on by the jury, to justify a draconian sentence. This means that Ross is, in part, serving a double life sentence, plus forty years, based on now-dismissed allegations.

This reliance on uncharged allegations during sentencing was addressed in Ross’s appeal to the Second Circuit [15] and was also argued in an amicus brief by former Federal Judge Nancy Gertner, Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, and JustLeadership USA in support of Ross’s Supreme Court petition.[16]

Despite admitting this, prosecutors spoke in detail about the allegations during their closing argument

“The sentence was based on judicial findings related to allegations of serious crimes that not only were never found by a jury but were not even among the charges leveled at trial.”
– National Lawyers Guild and seven other amici in support of Ross’s Supreme Court petition.[17]

References