Double standard

“No matter where you stand on the Silk Road and Ross’s case, this is an egregious sentence.”
– Alex Winter. Documentary Film Director and Producer

Ross, a young, first-time offender, was never prosecuted for causing harm or bodily injury, and no victim was named at trial. All his charges at trial were non-violent. His walking death sentence is grossly excessive and disproportionate, and its injustice is manifest.

Ross’s double life sentence without parole + 40 years creates a grotesque disparity between Ross and the other Silk Road defendants, who all received sentences ranging from 17 months to 10 years.[1]

The leading drug seller on the site—whose offense level was the same as Ross’s—got 10 years[2] and another large seller on the site got 5 years[3]. The biggest methamphetamine seller got 3 years[4] (reduced from 6 years because of agent corruption).

In addition, Peter Nash, a Silk Road forum moderator and administrator when the site had its highest sales volume, was given a 17-month “time served” sentence, even though his charges carried a mandatory minimum of 10 years.[5]

Even more stunning is that Thomas White, the creator and co-operator of Silk Road 2.0—a bigger replica of Silk Road and one of many dark net markets that multiplied after Ross’s sentencing—was sentenced in the UK to 5 years and 4 months.[6][7] As to Blake Benthall, the admitted co-operator of Silk Road 2.0, he is a free man, released from U.S. custody after 13 days.[8]

The FBI in Benthall’s criminal complaint stated that “SR 2.0 offers its users an almost identical user experience to that offered on SR 1.0.”[9] In fact, Silk Road 2.0 had even more listings and sales per month than the original site.[10]

That Benthall did not go to prison while Ross is serving a life sentence is in direct conflict with sentencing law 18 U.S. Code Section 3553, which states “the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct.”[11]

Such a sentencing disparity flies in the face of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the Sentencing Reform Act.[12][13]

“No American is safer because Ross Ulbricht is in jail for life. He is just one more casualty of our futile war against drugs.”
– John Stossel. Commentator and Television Personality

Benthall was arrested on 11/06/14 and released on 11/21/14

References