Ross Ulbricht Case Overview

Ross Ulbricht, was sentenced to double life without parole plus 40 years for all non-violent charges, for what prosecutors claim was his role in the Silk Road website. Passionate about privacy and free markets, he was 26 years old when he made the site. He had no prior record and no victim was named at trial.

Silk Road was an e-commerce website that emphasized on privacy and used Bitcoin as the means of exchange. The online marketplace prohibited child pornography, violent services, stolen property, and generally anything used to harm or defraud. Items exchanged included gold, books, art, clothing, and electronics. The site’s anonymity also attracted many drug sales, most commonly personal use amounts of marijuana.

The case was the pet project of Senator Chuck Schumer, who publicly and incredibly proclaimed Ross “guilty until proven innocent” before trial.

Ross, an Eagle Scout and scholarship student, was scapegoated and prosecuted by Preet Bharara, Schumer’s longtime chief counsel and collaborator. Robert Mueller’s FBI, followed by Comey’s, were in charge of the investigation. Judge Katherine Forrest, who was recommended by Schumer to the bench, presided at trial and sentencing. She partially justified her life sentence by calling Ross someone of “privilege.”

Ross is the victim of judicial and prosecutorial abuse, and of the media, which relentlessly smeared him with unprosecuted, unproven allegations—all dismissed—of planning murders that never occurred. He was spied on illegally when agents secretly seized his internet traffic information without a warrant. His case was tainted by corrupt agents now in prison, lies under oath by the FBI and AUSA, proven evidence tampering, and much more.

Ross’s case—the investigation, trial and sentencing—is a constitutionally defective criminal justice scandal that sets dangerous precedent. Ross and his legal team at Williams & Connolly LLP, led by Kannon Shanmugam, petitioned the Supreme Court challenging important Fourth and Sixth Amendment violations, but the Court denied the petition.

Since his arrest, Ross has been steadfastly supported by his family and friends, as well as many across the political spectrum. These include Reason Foundation, Cato Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, R Street Institute, FreedomWorks, Downsize DC, Gun Owners of America, American Conservative Union Foundation, the Libertarian Party and thirty others. He also has widespread grassroots support, including from the Bitcoin and liberty communities. His petition for clemency gained 60,000 signers in its first month, and now has over 100,000 signatures.

Ross has been in prison for five years. During that time he has been a model inmate—leading classes, tutoring, and helping other prisoners cope with the challenges of incarceration. Because of his life sentence, and despite his non-violent history, he is now at USP Florence, a maximum-security penitentiary that houses violent gangs and other dangerous inmates.

Even in the face of his excessive sentence, Ross clings to the hope of reuniting with his family, and dreams of a future where he can use his education, knowledge and skills to contribute to his community and society as a whole.

For more information, go to FreeRoss.org.