NEW YORK CITY – Ross Ulbricht, the convicted founder of the Silk Road online marketplace, will appeal his two life sentences, according to court documents filed on Thursday. Ulbricht was sentenced on five different counts in late May – one for 20 years, one for five years, one for 15 years and two for life, with no possibility of parole.
Ulbricht’s attorney Joshua Dratel spoke with TruthInMedia about the decision to appeal.
“The sentence is unreasonable, unjust and unfair, and based on improper considerations that have no basis in fact or law. Of course we will appeal the verdict and the sentence.”
In February, the Silk Road trial concluded as the jury reached a verdict of guilty on seven charges related to distributing narcotics, fraudulent documents, money laundering, and continuing a criminal enterprise. The jury took just three hours to convict Ulbricht on all charges.
At least 97 friends and family members of Ulbricht wrote to the judge asking for the most lenient sentence possible. Ulbricht himself wrote the judge asking her to give him 20 years so he might still have his old age.
Throughout the trial and sentencing, Ulbricht’s attorney objected to the judge’s decisions regarding witnesses, evidence, and other facts they say were kept from the jury. One point of contention comes from the discovery that two former federal agents are accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars during their investigation of the Silk Road. The two defendants are Carl Force, a former special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Shaun Bridges, a former Secret Service special agent. Force and Bridges were assigned to a task force based in Baltimore investigating Silk Road. Force was the lead investigator working undercover, and Bridges was a computer forensics expert working on the case.
According to a press release from the Justice Department, Force “served as an undercover agent and was tasked with establishing communications with a target of the investigation, Ross Ulbricht, aka ‘Dread Pirate Roberts.’” Force was authorized to communicate with Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) online to gather information, but he allegedly went on to create several unauthorized, fictitious online identities.
“The Government’s efforts to keep the Carl Force scandal out of the public eye at trial is in itself scandalous,” said Joshua Horowitz, a defense attorney for Ulbricht. “The recently filed Complaint which names Carl Force as a defendant demonstrates that the Government’s investigation of Mr. Ulbricht lacked integrity, and was wholly and fatally compromised from the inside.””
Whether any of the latest revelations will have any effect remains to be seen.