FAQ

Who is Ross Ulbricht?

Ross is a 33-year old first time offender who is currently serving a double life sentence, plus 40 years, for his role in the dark net marketplace Silk Road. All his convictions are non-violent and no one came forward at trial to say Ross had harmed them in any way. Read what family and friends say about him.

What was the Silk Road?

Silk Road was an online, open marketplace, designed to protect user privacy. It was based on a free market philosophy that allowed people to anonymously buy and sell items, using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin on the Tor router, for a variety of legal and illegal goods, including drugs. Anything involuntary or victimizing (like child porn, stolen property or violent services) was prohibited. An overview of the case is available here.

Why did Ross create the Silk Road?

When he created the Silk Road website Ross was a 26-year-old libertarian who wanted to give people the experience of a truly free market. He worked on the Ron Paul campaign, studied Austrian economics and was passionate about freedom.

Did Ross arrange murders-for- hire?

Ross denies ordering murders and it is completely contradictory to his personality, personal history, behavior and philosophy. But most telling is that the prosecution did not charge Ross with murder-for-hire at trial. It was never ruled on by a jury or proven beyond a reasonable doubt, as is the standard that must be met by the evidence in a criminal prosecution. Yet Judge Katherine Forrest used this allegation to justify Ross’ excessive sentence and much of the media repeats it as if Ross were convicted of it.

There remains a criminal indictment against Ross in Maryland that includes the allegation of murder-for-hire. After over four years it remains unprosecuted and unproven in the state where widespread corruption took place. The allegation is based on evidence provided by Carl Mark Force, a corrupt DEA agent now in prison.

The fact that the sentencing judge used this unproven allegation to enhance a draconian life sentence has been petitioned [pdf] to the Supreme Court.

Why was Ross sentenced to double life + 40 years?

Ross was given this sentence based on crimes associated with launching and operating the Silk Road website. All the convictions were non-violent and it is an unheard of sentence for a first time offender. This excessive and unreasonable sentence has been petitioned [pdf] to the Supreme Court based on the judge “finding facts” rather than the jury, as is required by the Constitution.

Was Ross offered a plea deal?

Ross was not offered a deal, he was offered a threat. Ross was arrested on a criminal complaint of drug trafficking that carried a sentence of ten years to life. Assistant US Attorney Serrin Turner, in his first conversation with Ross, threatened that if Ross didn’t plead guilty to the charges, he would add the Kingpin charge, raising the minimum to 20 years. Either way, Turner said he would recommend a life sentence to the judge. Ross’s only other option was to cooperate with Turner to prosecute Silk Road vendors and administrators. Ross refused and was finally indicted on Feb 4, 2014.

What is the evidence of corruption?

While working for the DEA, Secret Service and NSA, two federal agents stole over $1 million from the site while investigating it. They had unfettered access to the site and server, with the ability to tamper unreservedly. They confessed and are now in prison, while the extent of the corruption remains undisclosed.

What are the next steps in the case?

Now that the cert petition has been submitted to the Supreme Court, the next step is to wait for the Court to decide whether or not to accept the case.

Why is this case so important? How will it impact me?

Whenever anyone is deprived of rights in the U.S. criminal justice system, it impacts all Americans. When our constitutional protections are not upheld, they are weakened in general. Policy in the U.S., for better or worse, influences and impacts the rest of the world. Freedom is under assault worldwide and it is our choice what kind of future we want to live into.

How is Ross holding up in prison?

Ross is an exceptional person and disciplines himself to remain positive and optimistic. When the prison is not on lockdown, he spends time outside and in the law library, as well as the chapel where he meditates. Ross never has a bad word to say about anyone, including the people who put him in prison. He simply looks forward and tries to be a positive influence and stay safe in a place full of violent people. Read Ross’s writings from prison.

Can I communicate with Ross?

Unlike other inmates, Ross is deprived of email privileges, but you can send him a letter. See our Contact page. He loves to hear from people, as he is very cut off.

Where do donations go?

100% of donations go toward Ross’ fight for release from prison, primarily to legal fees. All efforts are by volunteers and all funds go directly to helping Ross.

Who runs this website?

Lyn Ulbricht, Ross’ mother and advocate, runs the site and social media, with the help of friends and supporters.

How can I help?

There are many ways. Please see the Donate and Take Action pages.