Three new charges laid against alleged Silk Road kingpin

Lawyer says legal bullets sprayed in hope of landing jury hit

Ross Ulbricht

Three additional charges have been laid against alleged Silk Road kingpin Ross Ulbricht including narcotics trafficking and identity fraud, according to an indictment filed Thursday.

Ulbricht faces life in prison for his alleged running of internet drug den Silk Road through which buyers and sellers sent hard and soft drugs to all corners of the globe. He was indicted February for four criminal offenses including drug trafficking and money and criminal hacking conspiracy, all of which he denies.

The US Government in a 17 page amended document introduced one count each of narcotics trafficking, distribution of narcotics by means of the internet, and conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent identification documents.

His attorney Joshua Dratel told CoinDesk the new charges did not change the nature of evidence.

"If that is true, and it's too early for us to draw a conclusion (having just received it yesterday), these additional charges simply demonstrate the government's penchant for converting a single alleged course of conduct into a set of multiple similar, interchangeable charges in an effort to improve its chances of having a jury, overwhelmed by the sheer number of charges, agree with the government on at least one," Drake said.

A photo released by the New York United States Attorney's Office revealed Ulbricht held nine fake identity cards including a NSW Driver's Licence under the name Sean McCall residing in North Sydney.

Others were linked to identities in New York, Colorado and the United Kingdom.

Ulbricht was accused of ordering six executions none of which were carried out and was said to have maintained a journal while allegedly running Silk Road.

I began working on a project that had been in my mind for over a year. I was calling it Underground Brokers, but eventually settled on Silk Road. The idea was to create a website where people could buy anything anonymously, with no trail whatsoever that could lead back to them - Alleged Ulbricht diary.

Since his arrest in October last year, Ulbricht has had $33.6 million in Bitcoins seized by the FBI which it claimed were the criminal proceeds from the Silk Road.

Ulbricht this month argued in a memo [PDF] accompanying a court motion that US authorities trampled his digital privacy rights in its investigation of Silk Road, including warrant and warrantless seizures of his computer, accounts and investigation into linked IP addresses.

Dratel wants nearly all evidence binned claiming the means under which it was obtained was unlawful.

As a result, the ESI (electronically stored information) and other material seized and searched has been contaminated at its source, and at several later points along the way, rendering the direct and indirect product of those searches and seizures – in essence, the entire product of the investigation itself – inadmissible,” the Memorandum of Law stated.

"Thus, the Fourth Amendment and relevant statutes require suppression of the fruits of the searches and seizures, and any evidence or other information derived therefrom." ®

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