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Trump Grant Mercy to Ulbricht

A recent report says that President Trump is thinking of granting mercy to Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht.

Ulbricht was a darknet market operator known for creating and running the Silk Road market. He was arrested in 2013. After two years, a Manhattan federal jury found him guilty on seven charges, including conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to commit computer hacking, traffic narcotics via the internet, and continuing criminal expertise.

Ulbricht was acquitted of selling illegal drugs and other items and creating and operating a site where others did.

Ulbricht grew up in Texas, studied physics at the University of Texas at Dallas and Pennsylvania State University to pursue a master’s program in materials science. He was a supporter of the political philosopher Ludwig von Mises and compared his views with famous libertarian politicians.

After his graduation, Ulbricht returned to Austin to be an entrepreneur. It was at this time that he first developed the idea of creating an online marketplace utilizing Tor encryption and bitcoin.

By embracing encryption and cryptocurrency, Ulbricht assumed that his marketplace could anonymity and security for the participants, allowing them to evade government scrutiny.

Ulbricht founded Silk Road in 2011, naming himself Dread Pirate Roberts.He envisioned Silk Road as a “means to abolish the use of coercion and aggression amongst mankind,” his LinkedIn page stated.

He also mentioned he was “creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force.” Silk Road became popular in a short period. A significant amount of interest developed on the site and traffic increased rapidly.

As the area became widely known, authorities moved to identify Silk Road users and shut down the site. Silk Road stayed popular but shrouded the marketplace where the legal and highly illegal activity took place in 2013. By the time it was shut down, the site had generated almost $213.9M in sales and $13.2M in commissions for the owner.

It was reported in 2013 that an Australian drug dealer was the first individual to be convicted of crimes linked to the Silk Road. Identification of Silk Road users still developed, and then the FBI determined that Ulbricht was the founder and owner of Silk Road. On October 2, 2013, he was arrested in a San Francisco library and was indicted on seven charges.

Ulbricht faced murder-for-hire charges in another case in a Baltimore federal court. These were dropped in 2018.

The FBI seized 144,336 BTC from a digital wallet on Ulbricht’s laptop, in the process of shutting down Silk Road. It was sold in a series of auctions generating proceeds around $48.2M.

His trial began in January 2015 in New York; he has been convicted on seven counts. The trial was a publicized and charged event, with the presiding judge receiving death threats from assumed Silk Road supporters.

Before his sentencing, Ulbricht stated in a letter to the judge that his actions were connected to his libertarian ideals and “Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices.” Ulbricht was sentenced to two life imprisonment terms, 40 years to be served without the possibility of parole.

Ulbricht bid an appeal, and in May 2017, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied his attempt. Ulbricht appealed to the Supreme Court, with attorneys debating that his case involves unresolved constitutional questions about the Fourth Amendment and the digital age. In June 2018, the court declined to hear Ross’s case.

On October 10, 2019, Ulbricht filed a motion with the New York Southern District Court to remove or set aside his sentence.

Since his incarceration, more than 290,000 signed an online petition by Lyn Ulbricht, Ross’s mother, to lessen his double life sentence. His supporters also created an online fact sheet to provide additional details about Ross’s case.

White House lawyers are reviewing documents about Ulbricht‘s case. A recent report writes, “Two of these sources say the president has at times privately expressed some sympathy for Ulbricht’s situation and has been considering his name, among others, for his next round of commutations and pardons before the January 20 inauguration of his 2020 Democratic opponent.”

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