Meet Ross

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“I’ve spent a hundred hours talking to people who knew Ross over the years, and what I find truly remarkable is that there hasn’t been a single person who disliked him. People have told me he was kind, thoughtful, compassionate, and how he was helpful and caring to everyone, especially to those in society that most people judge and ignore.”
Email to Lyn Ulbricht from author Nick Bilton

Who is Ross, really?

Throughout his life, Ross has demonstrated his kind, generous, caring nature. The prosecution’s, and much of the media’s depiction of Ross as a dangerous kingpin is a fiction that maligns an exceptionally peaceful and gentle man.

There are 100 letters [PDF] from those who personally know him (including fellow inmates) testifying to his exceptional character and integrity.

“Ross is one of those rare lights in the world and one of the best individuals I’ve ever met. I’ve never seen him show malice or anger towards anyone. I don’t know anyone else who treats others with such compassion and respect.”
Brandon Anderson, longtime friend, in letter to Judge Forrest

Peaceful and kind

All his life Ross has been widely-known as peace-loving and compassionate. He has never condoned or inflicted violence. Rather he adheres to the non-aggression principle of “do no harm,” and believes in free personal choice, as long as it doesn’t hurt another. Ross treats everyone he meets respectfully and kindly, regardless of station, age, income.

Even in prison, Ross has remained true to his non-violent principles, recently demonstrated by his refusal to participate in an assault against another prisoner, which put his own life in danger.

“Ross is a gentle soul, with a huge heart. Ross wouldn’t hurt a flea. His attention was on seeking ways to express love to others. He taught me to look to the service of others to find peace and happiness.”
Shiloh B. Travis, in letter to the judge

Ready to help

Ross has always been motivated to help people, not hurt them. He demonstrated this not only before his arrest, but in prison, where he has been a model inmate and benefited fellow inmates by leading math, science, and yoga classes, tutoring, and helping them earn GEDs and be accepted to college.

“I attribute our friendship largely to Ross’s kindness, generosity, and selflessness. He was genuinely interested in what he could do that might possibly make our lives better. I have witnessed Ross offering support to many people.”
– Hannah Thornton, in letter to Judge Forrest


Ross is an idealist. He has always cared about bettering the world. He has never been motivated by money or power, but has lived a simple life with modest possessions, dedicating himself to causes he believes in.

“I have never met a person who cares about the world and humanity as truly as Ross does. He is one of the kindest, most genuine and generous souls that I’ve had the privilege of knowing. He cares about using his talent and intelligence to solve problems and make things better for others.” 
Susie Kim, in letter to the judge

Ross at Penn State with Ron Paul (bottom row, far left)

Playful, friendly, nature-loving

Ross is an Eagle Scout and avid camper who loves nature and the wilderness. He is friendly, playful, and sociable and has many loyal friends who have stuck by him. People he hadn’t seen in years have stepped up to contribute bail pledges, defense funds and character letters for Ross.

“Ross has a positive influence on everyone he meets. He’s the friend you can count on… an easy-going, creative guy who loves the outdoors, his family and friends, enjoys the simple things in life and would never wish harm on anyone.”
Sean Becket, cousin, in letter to Judge Forrest

Generous and Charitable

As a business owner (Good Wagon Books) Ross donated 10% of gross earnings to Explore Austin, to mentor inner city youth; and leftover books to Inside Books prison literacy program.
He consistently contributed to charitable efforts, including Well Aware’s project to bring clean drinking water to Kenyan families.

“When I think of who Ross is, I think of abundant love. This young man can fill a room with his generous spirit. He exhibits a level of compassion that is rarely seen. His eagerness to explore human potential is inspiring.”
Deb Tindle, occupational therapist and friend, in letter to the judge

Uses his education for good

Ross was never a computer programmer and is not knowledgeable in programming languages. His training is in science.

He was an honors scholarship student with a Bachelor’s degree in physics and Masters degree in Materials Science. He developed advances in solar energy at the UT Dallas Nanotech Institute and authored scientific publications. He created and developed oxide thin films for technological use at Penn State Master’s Program. In prison Ross has taught many classes and tutored fellow inmates.

“Ross gives freely of his time without expectation of something in return. He shared his wealth of knowledge with unparalleled generosity, solely to help others. His kindness and devotion to excel has truly inspired us.”
Michael Van Praagh, fellow inmate, in letter to Judge Forrest

Beloved by Family and Friends

Ross is a beloved son, grandson, brother, cousin and friend. All his close and extended family and his many friends support his fight for release from prison.

“I have known Ross his entire life and he is one of the most outstanding young men it is my privilege to know. He is a warm, funny, easy going and affectionate individual who doesn’t have a selfish bone in his body. As a prison guard said, “I can’t tell you how highly we think of your son.”
Ann Becket, aunt, in letter to the judge

Who Ross is NOT

Despite what the prosecutors and much of the media portray, Ross is:

  • NOT motivated by money: Ross led a simple life with modest possessions. Right before his arrest he didn’t own a car and shared a house with three housemates who visited him in jail and testified on his behalf at trial.
  • NOT a ruthless kingpin or criminal mastermind: Ross’s entire life (including in prison) is living proof that this is utterly false.
  • NOT dangerous or violent: Rather, Ross is one of the nicest, sweetest people you could ever meet. Just ask the people who know him.

“Ross is one of the kindest, most truly phenomenal people in the world…He makes everyone around him happier, makes them laugh and think. His heart is so big and he means to make the world a better place. Everyone he has touched will tell you he’s kind, generous and always well-intentioned. Keeping a beautiful soul like this incarcerated any longer than necessary is an injustice to the greater good.”
Noah Marion, longtime friend, in letter to Judge Forrest