The defense attorney for the alleged Silk Road founder and owner Ross Ulbricht has stated in court in front of the jury trying his client that Ross Ulbricht is being set up by the real owner and founder. The attorney, Joshua Dratel, said that French internet entrepreneur Mark Karpeles might be the one setting up his client.
The trial of alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht started January 13th, 2015 in a Manhattan court. The widely anticipated trial started with the prosecution and defense making statements and submissions in front of the jury. Outside the court, supporters of Ross gathered with placards in his support, alleging that the government was charging someone with crimes that he neither aided and abetted or took part in because the government needed a fall guy for the travesty that was the Silk Road market place. Other supporters alleged that the government was suing resources to go after a person who did no real crime, yet there are other issues such as terrorism out there.
Mr. Ross is being charged with computer hacking, laundering money, conspiracy to traffic hard drugs and attempted murder. If found guilty, Mr. Ross faces life imprisonment. As of today, Mr. Ross is 30 years old. The attempted murder charge has been an especially contentious issue in this trial because Mr. Ross had been tried for the same in a prior case but the trial aborted over lack of evidence.
It is alleged that when Mr. Ross felt that the government was closing in on him, he ordered hits on people he perceived to be threats to his business. The prosecution in the current trial managed to get the court to allow the jury to hear of the alleged attempted murder, even when there is no evidence linking the defendant to the alleged hits.
In his initial submissions, the defense attorney sated that the defense’s position was that Mr. Ross is not Dread Pirate Roberts. He claimed that the real Dread pirate Roberts was Mark Karpeles. To drive his point home, Joshua Dratel put the prosecution on the stand and had him admit that the US government had for a long period of time thought Mr. Karpeles was the real Dread Pirate Robert.
Mark Karpeles used to run a BitCoin exchange online, before he lost a huge number of BitCoins and filed for bankruptcy. The defense attorney showed how by being the Silk Road owner and a large BitCoin exchange Mr. Karpeles could manipulate prices and make huge profits.
In one of his questions when grilling the prosecution, the defense attorney asked, “You thought you had probable cause that Mark Karpeles was intimately involved, as the head of Silk Road, correct?” to which the prosecution answered “Yes”. This is according to a report online regarding the ongoing trial.
After learning of the accusations by the defense attorney for Ross Ulbricht, Mr. Karpeles released a statement where he was quoted saying “This is probably going to be disappointing for you, but I am not Dread Pirate Roberts.” He went on to castigate the actions of the Silk Road and said that the defense was looking for a way to divert attention from Mr. Ross.
The trial of Ross Ulbricht took a break over the weekend and will resume on Monday the 19th of January. It is expected that the defense will stick to its position, compelling the prosecution to make a water tight case in proving that Mr. Ross and not Mark Karpeles is the real Dread Pirate Roberts.
Top/Featured Image: By Tkbx / Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Silk_Road_Marketplace_Item_Screen.jpg)