Ross Ulbricht is trying for one last plea of sympathy as he nears his judgement day in court this week (May 31).
The 31-year-old convicted leader of the bitcoin-ran Silk Road, the online marketplace that funneled through billions of dollars for selling heroin, cocaine and crystal meth, filed a letter to Federal Judge Katherine Forrest last week (May 22) that explains how the Silk Road was designed with pure intentions, but eventually got tangled into the illegal goods that most people know it for now.
His letter chronicles why the site was started, and how it got quickly manipulated. What’s interesting about his letter is he doesn’t proclaim his innocence or deny wrongdoing, instead he said he created Silk Road because he, according to a letter obtained by The Wall Street Journal, “believed at the time that people should have the right to buy and sell whatever they wanted to so long as they weren’t hurting anyone else.”
It was even referenced many times by Ulbricht’s supporters as a “victimless crime.” But even in his letter, Ulbricht admits that he was “naive” and expressed regret for his actions. His letter goes on to explaining why Silk Road was created.
“Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices, to pursue their own happiness, however they saw individually fit. What it turned into was, in part, a convenient way for people to satisfy their drug addictions. I do not and never have advocated for the abuse of drugs. I learned from Silk Road that when you give people freedom, you don’t know what they’ll do with it. While I still don’t think people should be denied the right to make this decision for themselves, I never sought to create a site that would provide an avenue for people to feed their addictions. Had I been more mature, or more patient, or even more worldly then, I would have done things differently,” Ulbricht wrote.
Ulbricht’s sentence for the seven federal felony convictions could be as little as 20 years — or could be up to life in prison. In his letter, he also appeals to the judge to provide him with the lesser sentence, saying that life in prison is “similar in nature to a death sentence.” He admitted the creation of Silk Road has ruined his future, but pleads to the judge not to take his entire future away.
“Even now I understand what a terrible mistake I made. I’ve had my youth, and I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave my old age,” he wrote.
Ulbricht’s lawyers appealed multiple times for a re-trial, but was struck down by the federal judge. His lawyer cited the Fifth Amendment as reason for a new trial, claiming that Ulbricht’s trial was denied adequate time to review documents that would have proved his innocence.
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