On February 4th, Ross Ulbricht was found guilty and convicted of owning and operating the online drug marketplace Silk Road. On hearing evidence brought by the FBI and DHS, a jury took less than three hours to find Ulbricht guilty of all seven charges levied against him. These charges include Narcotics trafficking conspiracy, running a criminal enterprise, computer hacking conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. Now Mr.Ulbricht’s defense attorneys are seeking a new trial based on the premise that prosecutors failed to disclose evidence in a timely manner.
Ulbricht’s attorneys filed a motion for a new trial arguing that “the government failed to produce exculpatory material in a timely fashion that would have permitted the defense effective use of the material and information at trial.” His attorneys went on further argue that Ulbricht was denied his Fifth Amendment right to due process.
While Ulbricht defense acknowledged that he was the creator of Silk Roads, they argued he had made it as an economic experiment and had handed off responsibility to someone else long ago. Ulbricht claimed he was set up as the perfect “fall guy” for the operator of Silk Roads. Fingers were pointed at Mark Karpelès, owner a the now infamous exchange Mt. Gox, as the owner and operator of Silk Road. In fact, the DHS agent who infiltrated Silk Road, Jared Deryeghiayan, had originally marked Mr. Karpelès as the suspected owner and operator before switching his sites on Ulbricht.
In a motion Friday, Ulbricht attorneys argued that evidence that potentially proved Ulbricht’s innocence was included in 5,000 pages of material turned over by prosecutors just two weeks before the trial began. In these pages is none admissible information regarding an “alternative perpetrator.”
As was argued before, it appears the defense is once again suggesting that investigators violated Ulbricht’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Before the defense made arguments that the FBI illegally hacked the Silk Road server. Judge Katherine Forrest dismissed the defense’s motion to suppress evidence based on a technicality and ruling in what many have called a catch-22. Her decision stemmed from the argument that Ulbricht had not claimed ownership of the server, a move that would have incriminated himself, and thus no rights were violated. In the motion filed Friday, the defense is once again seeking to have this evidence thrown out.
Furthermore, the defense wants re-litigated how the government discovered the Silk Road servers in Iceland. Many theories have been suggested, included a DDOS attack or hacking through the capita. Security experts have argued that the FBI’s described method used to obtain the IP address of the Silk Road server was impossible.
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