Business 24 July 2018

Jasmine Solana

US attorney wants Ross Ulbricht’s murder-for-hire charges dropped

U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert Hur has filed a motion to dismiss the pending charges filed against Ross Ulbricht, the man behind the now defunct dark web marketplace Silk Road.

Last week, Hur sought “to dismiss with prejudice the indictment and superseding indictment” pending against Ulbricht, CCN first reported. The 34-year-old ran the Silk Road website under the name Dread Pirate Roberts from 2011 until 2013, when he was caught during a law enforcement sting in a San Francisco coffee shop. He was found guilty by the Manhattan jury on seven charges, including drug trafficking, money laundering and a whole host of other cyber crimes, and was subsequently sentenced to a lifetime behind bars without possibility of parole.

In another indictment, this time from Maryland, Ulbricht was accused of asking a Silk Road hit man to deal with an employee who he believed had stolen funds from him.

Hur noted in his motion that Ulbricht’s “conviction and sentence have been affirmed on appeal and the Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari.” The motion advised that Ulbricht “should remain in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.”

Ulbricht’s last shot at freedom was shot down in late June after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari. The ruling effectively prevented Ulbricht from appealing his life sentence, thus putting a close to his lengthy legal war.

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. Ulbricht also claimed that the allegations that he attempted to hire a hit man influenced the judge to give him an unreasonable sentence.

The Supreme Court, however, 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.

Now, Ulbricht and his team has turned to social petition platform Change.org in hopes of gaining enough signatures to get the U.S. president’s attention, and, potentially, a legal reconsideration. Ulbricht’s supporters said that while a punishment may be in order, the one Ulbricht received was far too severe considering the fact that his offenses were non-violent. The #FreeRossPetition has already gained 33,414 signatures at press time.

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