Judge Denies Alleged Silk Road Owner’s Bail Request
U.S. District Judge Kevin Fox made the decision in a Manhattan court room Thursday. The ruling comes despite a recent outpouring of support from Ulbricht’s family and friends, who pledged more than $1 million toward a possible bail and wrote letters vouching for his character.
Fox said he felt there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Ulbricht would pose a danger if he was released, referring to allegations of murder-for-hire brought against Ulbricht. In fact, the Assistant U.S. Attorney Serrin Turner presented four additional instances of murder-for-hire, for which Ulbricht supposedly paid a total of $500,000, on top of the two in the original FBI filings from last month.
“It wasn’t just online talk, it wasn’t just pretend,” Turner said. “Just because it was on the computer doesn’t make it any less of a crime.”
The prosecution said the FBI has uncovered “a trove” of new evidence against Ulbricht from forensic analysis of his laptop, which agents seized when they arrested him at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library on Oct. 1. Ulbricht was logged into Silk Road as “Dread Pirate Roberts” at the time the FBI agents arrested him, Turner said.
The judge also said Ulbricht “has the means to flee.” The FBI estimates it has only recovered about a quarter of the roughly $80 million worth of Bitcoin Ulbricht allegedly earned as administrator of Silk Road, according to the prosecution.
Joshua Dratel, Ulbricht’s attorney, submitted a memo in support of Ulbricht’s bail application earlier this week. In the letter, Dratel aggregates letters of support from Ulbricht’s family and friends, identifying 24 people who pledged the bail money.
“He’s not going to put his family in the poor house” Dratel said, trying to convince the judge that Ulbricht was not a flight risk.
Ulbricht appeared in court wearing a beige prison uniform. He looked back and gave a brief smile to his family members and friends in the courtroom but otherwise remained stoic and silent during the proceedings.
Ulbricht’s supporters recently launched an online fundraising effort, hoping to generate $500,000 to put towards his defense. The “Free Ross Ulbricht” site features the following short video, narrated Ulbricht’s friends and family.
In an interview last month, a former college roommate and close friend of Ulbricht portrayed him as an extremely intelligent and affable “hippie” with strong political beliefs and a pronounced sense of ethics.
“He’s one of the kindest and most good-natured people I know,” Jaspreet Sidhu told Mashable.
Both physics majors, Sidhu attended the University of Texas at Dallas with Ulbricht, who was at the school from 2002 until 2006, according to his LinkedIn page. Ulbricht went on to study material science and engineering in graduate school at Penn State.
Image: YouTube, Ross Ulbricht