Ross Ulbricht, the man being tried for masterminding darknet black market Silk Road, has admitted to creating the site, but, according to his defence attorney Joshua Dratel, has denied that he is the site’s shadowy manager Dread Pirate Roberts.
Dratel made the distinction in his opening statement on the first day of precedings in a Manhattan federal court on 13th January. He claims that his client set up Silk Road as an “economic experiment”, but handed the site over to others months after. The new owners, says Dratel, then used Ulbricht as the “fall guy” once law enforcement took an interest in the site.
“After a few months, he found it too stressful for him, and he handed it over to others. At the end, he was lured back by those operators to […] take the fall for the people running the website.,” said Dratel. He then stressed, “Ross was not a drug dealer. He was not a kingpin.”
According to the prosecution, Ulbricht was “literally caught with his fingers at the keyboard, running the Silk Road.” When Ulbricht was arrested in San Francisco Public Library, law enforcement found him logged into the site with related chat logs open. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Serrin Turner and Timothy Howard seem confident they can prove that Ulbricht is the real Dread Pirate Roberts.
The trial of Ross Ulbricht – accused of drug trafficking, computer hacking, conspiracy to traffic fake IDs, money laundering, and continuing a criminal enterprise – is set to continue for the next four to six weeks.