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Silk Road Creator Appeals Conviction, Life Sentence

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on January 13, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

How does the saying go? "It takes a wolf to catch a wolf." And it appears that the wolf who ran Silk Road was caught by a couple law enforcement wolves who were pocketing bitcoin during their investigation.

Ross Ulbricht was convicted of seven criminal charges in his operation of the underground website, ranging from hacking to drug trafficking, and was sentenced to life in prison. He is appealing both his conviction and sentence based on two federal agents pleading guilty to corrupt misconduct during his investigation. You can read his full appeal below:

Corruption or Conviction?

Mere months after Ulbricht's convictions, former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Carl Force and former Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges were charged with pocketing bitcoins during the Silk Road investigation. The pair has since pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to around six years in prison.

Ulbricht's attorneys argue that evidence of the agents' malfeasance would've been relevant to their client's case, and that the judge prevented them from entering evidence of corruption at trial. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest limited that evidence in order to maintain secrecy in the corruption investigation, and later gave Ulbricht a life sentence.

Grounds for Appeal

In his appeal, Ulbricht's attorneys contend the judge denied him a fair trial by precluding the defense from presenting evidence of law enforcement corruption. They also allege that the prosecution should have turned over more corruption evidence before trial, that the court should have allowed more defense expert testimony, and that the searches of Ulbricht's computer and online accounts violated the Fourth Amendment.

Based on the corruption evidence, Ulbricht has asked for a new trial. He is also asking for his life sentence to be overturned, arguing that it is unreasonable and based on unreliable evidence. You can read the full appeal and arguments below:

United States v. Ross Ulbricht: Appeal by FindLaw

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