The (all non-violent) Charges 

Ross, who had no criminal history, was charged with seven non-violent counts[1][2] and sentenced for five of them on May 29, 2015.

– Possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.[3]
10 years to life. Dropped at sentencing.

– Distribution of narcotics by means of the internet.[4]
10 years to life. Ross sentenced to life without parole.
Note: the government charged that Ross “delivered, distributed, and dispensed”:
– 1kg or more of heroin
– 5kg or more of cocaine
– 500g or more of meth
– 10g or more of LSD
Yet no evidence was presented to support this, only that others did so through Silk Road.
See Vicarious Liability.

Metropolitan Detention Center,
Brooklyn, June 2014

– Narcotics trafficking conspiracy.[5]
10 years to life. Dropped at sentencing.

– Continuing criminal enterprise, aka kingpin charge.[6]
20 years to life. Ross sentenced to life without parole.
Note: element of charge is three predicate drug offenses, yet these were never identified, in violation of Richardson v. U.S.[7]
See Kingpin Statute.

– Computer hacking conspiracy.[8]
0 to 5 years. Ross sentenced to 5 years.
Note: Ross was not alleged to have hacked computers, and no computers are known to have been hacked with software sold through Silk Road.

– Fake ID trafficking conspiracy.[9]
0 to 15 years. Ross sentenced to 15 years.
Note: Charge based on Silk Road acting as a platform, whether or not actual fake ID sales occured. No actual sales identified.

– Money laundering conspiracy.[10]
0 to 20 years. Ross was sentenced to 20 years.
Note: Charge based on Silk Road acting as a platform for sales of cash, gold, and other money. No actual sales identified.

Ross looking at his parents during sentencing.
Illustration: Elizabeth Williams

Ross’s total sentence: double life without parole + 40 years.

None of these counts are for any violence or drug-related deaths. Ross has never been prosecuted for violence of any kind. The New York prosecution never charged or indicted Ross for murder-for-hire and no one was ever killed. Yet, they used these unproven allegations to deny Ross bail, smear his name in the media, bias his jurors, and justify the life sentence he ultimately received.

Ross’s lawyer believes that the absence of the murder-for-hire accusations in Ross’s trial demonstrates that they have no merit. See Making a Murderer.