Business 29 June 2018

Jasmine Solana

Ross Ulbricht rebuffed in renewed bid for freedom

Ross Ulbricht’s last shot at freedom has been shot down. On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court (SC) denied Ulbricht’s petition for writ of certiorari, bringing the former Silk Road operator’s legal saga to a “devastating” close.

The Ulbricht v. United States petition was among the 19 certiorari denied by the high tribunal. No explanation was provided in the SC order, which marked an end to Ulbricht’s legal attempts to appeal his life sentence.

Ulbricht’s new legal team had been optimistic about the case, previously saying that it has “unresolved constitutional questions about the scope of the Fourth Amendment in the digital age and the authority of federal judges to go above and beyond when handing down sentences.”

In his petition, Ulbricht and his lawyers argued that the man’s Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights had been violated in the course of the investigation and subsequent sentencing. According to Ulbricht’s team, there have been discrepancies in the course of the investigation as well as misconduct after government agents assigned to the case—two of them, in fact—were caught stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of seized BTC from Silk Road.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Carpenter v. United States case, which sought to determine if police need a warrant to obtain cellphone records revealing an individual’s location and movements, raised hopes in the Ulbricht camp. In that particular case, the high court ruled that under the Fourth Amendment, individuals have a “legitimate expectation of privacy” over personal data, including those they voluntarily give to third parties.

In Ulbricht’s case, however, the Supreme Court deemed that the petition was unworthy to receive a hearing. This means that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s May 2017 decision, which rejected Ulbricht’s claims of unfair trial and overly harsh sentence, still stands.

Ulbricht ran the Silk Road website under the name Dread Pirate Roberts from 2011 until 2013, when he was caught red-handed by a law enforcement sting. He was found guilty by the Manhattan jury on seven charges, including drug trafficking, money laundering and a whole host of other cyber crimes. He faces a lifetime behind bars without possibility of parole when sentencing was handed out in May 2015.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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