Proof of Multiple DPRs

The government claimed that Ross was in control of Silk Road from start to finish and was the only person behind the accounts of its operator, Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR). However, there is hard evidence and testimony that contradicts this key element of their narrative, even from the government’s lead Silk Road investigator.

DPR logged in while Ross was in prison

A record in the Silk Road forum database showed that the last time the DPR forum account was logged into was November 18, 2013, nearly seven weeks after Ross was arrested and four days before the government took the forum offline. Not only was Ross in prison at this time, he was in solitary confinement, completely sealed off from the outside world.

Although we know that DPR logged in on that day, we still don’t know:

  • When that person or persons originally gained access
  • How many times they logged into Silk Road as DPR since gaining access, or what they did
  • How many DPRs there were and when they operated
Motherboard article, Dec 1, 2016
This information was buried in four terabytes of data dumped on Ross and his lawyers before trial, and wasn’t found until months after when it couldn’t be used.

For media coverage, see Motherboard, Reason.

DPR fails “handshake” with employee

One of DPR’s employees, Andrew Jones, told federal prosecutors that, in October 2012, he and DPR had agreed upon a “handshake,” a unique question and response that only they would know. If Jones ever doubted he was talking to the same DPR, he could ask the secret question to determine if DPR knew the response.

Just weeks before Ross was arrested, Jones asked DPR for a book recommendation (the question). DPR should have know the correct response (anything by Rothbard), but was unable to provide it.[1][2]

Ross’s judge, Katherine Forrest, prevented Ross from presenting this information to his jury at trial.[3]

DPR says he didn’t create Silk Road

In an interview with Forbes on August 14, 2013, DPR revealed that Silk Road was handed off to him by a previous owner.

AG: What inspired you to start the Silk Road? Not just philosophically, (that’s covered in lots of your posts on the Silk Road forums) but where did the idea come from?

DPR: I didn’t start the Silk Road, my predecessor did. From what I understand, it was an original idea to combine Bitcoin and Tor to create an anonymous market. Everything was in place, he just put the pieces together.

AG: Oh, apologies, I didn’t know you had a predecessor. When did you take over the Road from him? Before you announced yourself as the Dread Pirate Roberts?

DPR: It’s ok, this is the first time I’ve stated that publicly. I’d rather not say exactly when, for his sake mostly, but it was a transition that took some time. I was in his corner from early on and eventually it made sense for me to take the reigns.

AG: Can you tell me anything about the original creator of the Silk Road? How did you meet? And did you acquire the Silk Road from him in a financial deal of some kind, or simply take over the project?

DPR: He was well compensated and happy with our arrangement. It was his idea to pass the torch in fact. We met through the site. I had discovered a big vulnerability in the way he had configured the main Bitcoin wallet that was being used to process all of the deposits and withdrawals on the site. At first he ignored me, but I persisted and gained his trust by helping him secure the wallet. From there we became close friends working on Silk Road together.

Judge Forrest prevented Ross’s jury from hearing this as well.[4]

The government’s lead Silk Road investigator believed there were multiple DPRs

Jared Der-Yeghiayan, the government’s lead Silk Road investigator, testified at Ross’s trial that he had believed someone new assumed control of the DPR accounts around April 2013.[5]

Der-Yeghiayan spent two years investigating Silk Road, and thousands of hours working undercover as a Silk Road employee, interacting with those behind the DPR accounts on a daily basis.[6]

These points and anecdotal evidence show that:

“…there was more than one DPR, that DPR’s identity changed over time, and that there was a change very close in time to [Ross]’s arrest—all supporting [Ross]’s defense that he had been framed by the genuine DPR.” – Joshua Dratel, Ross’s lawyer, arguing for a new trial.[7]