The Many Issues

The investigation in Ross’s case was permeated by the schemes of two corrupt federal agents now in prison and derailed by a power struggle among competing law enforcement agencies.

Ross’s Fourth Amendment privacy rights were violated before, during, and after his arrest, and the prosecution repeatedly lied to the court about the investigation. The prosecutors used unprosecuted, false allegations of planning violence that never actually occurred—and were later dismissed with prejudice—to deny Ross bail, smear him in the media, bias his jurors and justify the draconian sentence he ultimately received.

Ross was prosecuted as a drug kingpin, not for selling drugs but for creating a platform where others did, despite established laws protecting providers from liability for their users’ content.

At trial, all mention of the corruption was hidden from the jury, as well as evidence that multiple people operated the top admin “DPR” accounts. After trial, it was discovered that someone using the DPR account logged into the Silk Road forum seven weeks after Ross was imprisoned. It was also later discovered that evidence used against Ross had been tampered with before trial, ostensibly by an additional corrupt agent.

Ross’s lawyers were deprived of essential material at key points in the proceedings, prevented from calling expert witnesses, and blocked from cross-examining government witnesses. With the defense eviscerated, the prosecution’s unreliable digital evidence convinced the jury, and Ross was convicted on five non-violent counts.

The presiding judge based Ross’s sentence on what she perceived to be his philosophical beliefs, as well as allegations he was never charged with. She rejected independent academic studies showing that Silk Road reduced harm in the drug trade and that excessive sentences do not deter crime. She also rejected 100 letters [PDF] written by people who know Ross, attesting to his fine character and pleading with her for leniency. Instead, she sentenced Ross to two life sentences without parole + 40 years, while all the other Silk Road defendants received sentences ranging from 17 months to 10 years, including the two corrupt investigators at the core of the investigation, and the creator of Silk Road 2.0, a bigger replica.

For the full story and never-before-seen information, read or watch RAILROADED: the Targeting & Caging of Ross Ulbricht.