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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Prosecutors Calling for Lengthy Sentence for Silk Road Founder

Federal prosecutors are attempting to make an example of Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the black market online marketplace the Silk Road - calling for a lengthy prison sentence, The New York Times reports. In February, Ulbricht was found guilty on seven counts; four of the charges can carry life sentences.

For three years, between 2011 and 2013, more than 1.5 million transactions were made, with more than 13,000 offerings of illegal drugs being available for purchase when the Silk Road was shut down, according to the report. It is estimated that the marketplace generated more than $213 million in BitCoins - an untraceable digital currency. Ulbricht has been called a digital drug kingpin by the Federal District Court. Ulbricht operated an “online black market of unprecedented scope,” leading to addiction and fatal drug overdoses.

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, said Ulbricht’s charges should carry a sentence that is “substantially above the mandatory minimum” of 20 years.

“Ulbricht bears responsibility for the overdoses, addictions and other foreseeable repercussions of the illegal drugs sold on Silk Road,” Bharara’s office wrote. “It does not matter that he did not personally handle those drugs; neither would a traditional kingpin.”

In a personal letter to the judge, Ulbricht claimed that he did not create the Silk Road for financial gain but because he believed “people should have the right to buy and sell whatever they wanted so long as they weren’t hurting anyone else.” Adding that the website “turned out to be a very na├»ve and costly idea that I deeply regret.”

Ulbricht also pleaded for leniency:

“I’ve had my youth, and I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age,” he said. “Please leave a small light at the end of the tunnel, an excuse to stay healthy, an excuse to dream of better days ahead and a chance to redeem myself in the free world before I meet my maker.”

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