Silk Road operator gets November 3 trial date for online drug case

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Feb 08, 2014 10:12 AM EST

After pleading not guilty in a federal court in Manhattan, alleged Silk Road website operator Ross William Ulbricht was given a November 3 trial date, Bloomberg reported. The website was an online marketplace where customers used Bitcoins in drug-related transactions.

US District Judge Katherine Forrest was told by Assistant US Attorney Serrin Turner that the government had obtained a large number of evidence against Ulbricht which include a number of computer servers. On February 4, a New York grand jury indicted the 29-year-old Ulbricht for operating a narcotics trafficking scheme, money laundering conspiracy, computer hacking and operating a continuing criminal enterprise, the report said.

Last month, "Bitcoin millionaire" Charlie Shrem was charged with conspiring to launder over $1 million Bitcoin in a lawsuit that is connected to Silk Road, the report said.

Silk Road was described as a "sprawling black-market bazaar" where drug dealers and others converged to distribute illegal drugs and launder hundreds of millions of dollars obtained from illegal transactions. The indictment also said that Ulbricht had included in Silk Road's design a Bitcoin-based payment system that could hide the users' locations and identities, the report said.

According to Turner, the government intends to hand over its evidence and give Ulbricht and his attorneys a computer in the coming months so they will be able to study the material. Ulbricht, who was accused of operating Silk Road under the Dread Pirate Roberts alias, is now in a Brooklyn, New York federal jail and held without bail after a ruling from a federal magistrate said that he has authorized at least six murders-for-hire in a bid to safeguard his business, the report said.

He stands to get a mandatory minimum 20-year prison term if the charge of operating a continuing criminal enterprise is proved. Narcotics conspiracy also has a maximum life term  while money laundering conspiracy has a maximum of 20 years, the report said.

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