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Archive for the ‘FAMOUS TRIALS’ Category

Ross Ulbricht, 31, who has been sentenced to life in prison image www.crimefiles.net

Ross Ulbricht, 31, who has been sentenced to life in prison.

The American convicted of masterminding the criminal website Silk Road has been sentenced in court to life in prison over the online enterprise that sold $US200 million ($261 million) in drugs to customers worldwide.

It was the maximum possible punishment for Ross Ulbricht, who was convicted in February by a jury on seven counts of narcotics trafficking, criminal enterprise, computer hacking and money laundering.

The 31-year-old with a graduate degree displayed no emotion on Friday as he stood in dark prison scrubs to hear his fate read by US Federal Judge Katherine Forrest, as his devoted parents sat in the packed gallery.

Lyn Ulbricht, mother of Ross Ulbricht, speaks to journalists outside court image www.crimefiles.net
Lyn Ulbricht, mother of Ross Ulbricht, speaks to journalists outside court. Photo: ReutersUlbricht, who ran Silk Road under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts” and was alleged to have commissioned five murders at a cost of $US650,000 ($850,000) but never charged for them, was sentenced to two life sentences for narcotics distribution and criminal enterprise.
AdvertisementHe also received the maximum sentence of five, 15 and 20 years for hacking, trafficking in false documents and money laundering convictions.

In the gallery, his mother put her head in her hand.
Silk Road website shows thumbnails for products allegedly available through the site.image www.crimefiles.net

This frame grab from the Silk Road website shows thumbnails for products allegedly available through the site.

It was a stunning fall from privilege for Ulbricht, who the government said amassed $US13 million ($17 million) in commissions by making the purchase of heroin, cocaine and crystal meth as easy as shopping online at eBay or Amazon.

Prosecutors said the narcotics-trafficking enterprise resulted in at least six drug-related deaths.

Crimes were ‘unprecedented’

“You should serve your life in prison,” Forrest told Ulbricht, saying there was no parole in the US federal system.

“What you did was unprecedented,” she said. “You have to pay the consequences of this.”

Forrest said the court also sought the forfeiture of more than $US183.9 million ($240 million) in Silk Road drug profits.

The parents of a 25-year-old Boston man and a 16-year-old Australian schoolboy, who both died after ingesting drugs obtained from Silk Road, spoke of their devastating loss.

“I strongly believe my son would be here today if Ross Ulbricht had never created Silk Road,” said one of the parents, identified only as Richard.

But Ulbricht made little mention of their anguish, sniffing and sobbing his way through a self-pitying statement before the court.

He told Forrest that he wanted to “tell you about myself from my perspective”, and denied that he was greedy and vain.

He also promised that he now respected the law and would never break it again if released.

“I’m not a self-centered, sociopathic person… I just made some very serious mistakes.”

His four-week trial had been considered a landmark case in the murky world of online crime and government surveillance.

Given the significant public interest in the case, Forrest said his sentence had to serve as a deterrent to anyone looking to step into his shoes, and must reflect the severity of his crimes and protect society.

Right to appeal

The defence had requested the mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and Ulbricht has the right to appeal.

The sentence was the maximum possible under US federal law on each count – tougher even more than the lengthy sentence sought by government prosecutors.

Forrest read from chilling online messages and journal entries that she said showed Ulbricht had displayed “arrogance”, knew exactly what he was doing and had an escape plan to flee the country.

“I’m running a goddamn multimillion-dollar criminal enterprise,” she read out.

His own writings proved that he was “callous as to the consequences and the harm and suffering it may cause others”, she said.

The government said Silk Road conducted 50,000 sales of heroin, 80,000 sales of cocaine and 30,000 of methamphetamine – highly addictive and dangerous drugs.

Forrest said Ulbricht was no better than a common drug dealer and blind to the collateral damage to society caused by expanding the drugs market.

“I don’t know you feel a lot of remorse for the people you hurt. I don’t know you know you hurt a lot of people.”

She said she found “profoundly moving” the nearly 100 letters written from family and friends testifying to a kind, intelligent and loved friend, saying that he was a “very complex” person.

Ulbricht created the Silk Road in January 2011, and owned and operated the underground site until it was shut down by the FBI in October 2013, when he was arrested in a San Francisco library.

The government called it “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the internet” used by vendors in more than 10 countries in North America and Europe.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Ulbricht commissioned five murders at a cost of $US650,000 ($850,000). He was accused of these murders by law-enforcement but was never charged for them.

AFP

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ON THIS DAY ESPIONAGE CASE-ROSENBERGS

The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg began in New York Southern District federal court. Judge Irving R. Kaufman presides over the espionage prosecution of the couple accused of selling nuclear secrets to the Russians (treason could not be charged because the United States was not at war with the Soviet Union). The Rosenbergs, and co-defendant, Morton Sobell, were defended by the father and son team of Emanuel and Alexander Bloch. The prosecution includes the infamous Roy Cohn, best known for his association with Senator Joseph McCarthy.

David Greenglass was a machinist at Los Alamos, where America developed the atomic bomb. Julius Rosenberg, his brother-in-law, was a member of the American Communist Party and was fired from his government job during the Red Scare. According to Greenglass, Rosenberg asked him to pass highly confidential instructions on making atomic weapons to the Soviet Union. These materials were transferred to the Russians by Harry Gold, an acquaintance of Greenglass. The Soviets exploded their first atomic bomb (and effectively started the Cold War) in September 1949 based on information, including that from Greenglass, they had obtained from spies.

The only real direct evidence of the Rosenberg’s involvement was the confession of Greenglass. The left-wing community believed that the Rosenbergs were prosecuted because of their membership in the Communist Party. Their case became the cause celebre of leftists throughout the nation.

The trial lasted nearly a month, finally ending on April 4 with convictions for all the defendants. The Rosenbergs were sentenced to death row on April 6. Sobell received a thirty-year sentence. Greenglass got fifteen years for his cooperation. Reportedly, the Rosenbergs were offered a deal in which their death sentences would be commuted to life in return for an admission of their guilt. They refused and were executed.

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