Silk Road founder appeals life sentence

The creator of a notorious online black market is challenging his criminal conviction and his sentence of life in prison.

Ross Ulbricht, founder of the Silk Road, appealed his conviction and punishment in a filing on Thursday, according to The Guardian.

Business Insider reported that evening that Ulbricht’s appeal focuses on alleged government corruption deemed immaterial during his trial.

{mosads}At issue is the Baltimore Silk Road task force — also called SA Force — and the potentially illegal activities it was involved in while investigating Ulbricht’s site for criminal misconduct.

“The fact that we were precluded at trial from using any evidence related to the former SA Force — we did not even learn of [former Secret Service agent Shaun] Bridges until after the trial was over — will of course be one of the key issues we will raise on appeal,” said Lindsey Lewis, one of Ulbricht’s defense attorneys, according to Business Insider.

The publication said Lewis and Ulbricht’s other lawyers only learned of possible corruption in the investigation against their client a month before his trial.

By then, it said, prosecutors had already tried making that information inadmissible in court.

Business Insider said that two SA Force officers were indicted in March on charges of money laundering, wire fraud and theft of government property during their undercover efforts against Ulbricht.

It identified the two men as Bridges and former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Carl Force.

Business Insider said a criminal complaint filed against the pair alleges Force “stole and converted to his own personal use a sizable amount of Bitcoins.”

Bridges, the report added, had “without authority, developed additional online personas and engaged in a broad range of illegal activities calculated to bring him personal financial gain.”

Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced to life in prison on May 29 in a New York federal court.

He was initially found guilty in February on seven counts, including conspiracy to commit money laundering and distributing narcotics over the Internet.

Ulbricht operated the controversial Web portal under the username “Dread Pirate Roberts.” It was only accessible online via the Tor browser, which allows users to access the Web anonymously.

Silk Road allegedly became a platform often used for selling assassination services, narcotics and prostitution.

Federal authorities first closed the illicit marketplace in 2013, only to repeat that move following the launch of “Silk Road 2.0” soon after.

They have since arrested Blake Benthall, founder of that second iteration, after a raid conducted last November. 

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