Trump considers clemency for Silk Road kingpin Ross Ulbricht

Ulbricht was originally given life without parole

 

President Trump is considering clemency for Ross Ulbricht, founder of the Silk Road dark web marketplace, before he leaves office.

Sources told the Daily Beast that the president was considering commuting Ulbricht's sentence and had been reviewing documents related to his case at the White House.

Ulbricht, 36, launched Silk Road in February 2011. The site, which the FBI shut down in October 2013, connected buyers and sellers on the dark web, usually for drug deals. It facilitated at least 1,229,465 transactions and generated 614,305 bitcoins in commissions. At the time of his arrest, that represented $183 million. At today's values, that amounts to $12.7 billion in cryptocurrency.

In 2015, a jury convicted Ulbricht on seven charges: distributing or aiding in the distribution of narcotics, distributing narcotics over the internet, violating narcotics laws, conspiracy to run a continuing criminal enterprise, computer hacking, distributing false identification, and money laundering. 

The recommended sentence under US guidelines was life in prison with a 20-year mandatory minimum. Judge Katherine Forrest handed down two life sentences, one 20-year sentence, one 15-year sentence, and another five-year sentence, all to be served concurrently without the possibility of parole.

In a sentencing submission, prosecutors had requested 'a lengthy sentence, one substantially above the mandatory minimum." The submission letter argued the Silk Road leader was responsible for the drug-related deaths of at least six people and had also solicited multiple murders to protect his enterprise. None of the murders were carried out.

Ulbricht, who operated under the moniker Dread Pirate Roberts when running the site, appealed his life sentence but lost in 2017.

His supporters frequently point to the disparities between Ulbricht's sentence and those of others, including Thomas White, the creator of Silk Road 2.0, who received five years and four months in jail.

President Trump has pardoned 29 people so far, including 11 this year. His pardons have included people convicted of money laundering, attempted cocaine possession, aiding in the preparation of false tax returns, bank robbery, murder, racketeering, mail fraud, campaign contribution fraud, obstruction of justice, and violation of the White Slave Traffic Act. He has also commuted 16 sentences. His use of pardons lags behind all other modern presidents, according to Pew.

Featured Resources

Consumer choice and the payment experience

A software provider's guide to getting, growing, and keeping customers

Download now

Prevent fraud and phishing attacks with DMARC

How to use domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance for email security

Download now

Business in the new economy landscape

How we coped with 2020 and looking ahead to a brighter 2021

Download now

How to increase cyber resilience within your organisation

Cyber resilience for dummies

Download now

Recommended

Trump's election defeat isn't going to get Huawei back in the UK
Security

Trump's election defeat isn't going to get Huawei back in the UK

17 Nov 2020
The IT Pro Podcast: What does Joe Biden have in store for tech?
Policy & legislation

The IT Pro Podcast: What does Joe Biden have in store for tech?

13 Nov 2020
Politicians need to stop talking about technology
Policy & legislation

Politicians need to stop talking about technology

21 Oct 2020
Trump signs order against TikTok and WeChat
social media

Trump signs order against TikTok and WeChat

7 Aug 2020

Most Popular

How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

16 Jun 2021
What is HTTP error 400 and how do you fix it?
Network & Internet

What is HTTP error 400 and how do you fix it?

16 Jun 2021
EU plans to launch bloc-wide cyber task force
cyber attacks

EU plans to launch bloc-wide cyber task force

22 Jun 2021