Although it was an extremely complex case, it took a jury a mere three hours to convict Ross Ulbricht of all seven felony counts on February 4, 2015, based on the accusation that he created and operated the anonymous online marketplace Silk Road, under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR). The site was an open market with few restrictions and permitted vendors to sell drugs and other illegal goods as well as legal ones. It forbade child pornography, stolen goods and assassinations, among other things. It was hosted on the TOR anonymous network and the means of exchange was exclusively the digital currency bitcoin.
Ross Ulbricht, a first-time offender, was sentenced to double life in prison without parole + 40 years on five non-violent counts: Distribution of Narcotics by Means of the Internet; Continuing Criminal Enterprise; Conspiracy to Commit and Aid and Abet Computer Hacking; Conspiracy to Traffic in Fraudulent Identity Documents; and Money Laundering Conspiracy.
Ignoring the Sentencing Reform Act, the Judge gave Ross “the severest possible penalty to be imposed.” This is a harsher sentence than most murderers, rapists, kidnappers and child pornographers get. None of the counts included directly dealing drugs or physically harming anyone. They were based on the conviction that Ross created and operated a website.
The Ross Ulbricht Legal Defense effort is a group of family, friends and supporters who are working to free Ross Ulbricht from a barbaric, double life sentence for all non-violent charges. The mission is to have Ross be a free man again and give him the chance to make a contribution to his community and society.
The aim is not only to help Ross, however. By living through this ordeal, and getting to know other families and inmates in the prison, the group learned that Ross is not unique in how he was investigated, tried or sentenced. They have seen firsthand how constitutional protections are too often being eroded. The group hopes that by shining a light on the plight of multiple thousands of people in the criminal justice system, and sounding a warning about diminishing freedoms, they can help move the US toward being a more just and free nation.
In addition to funding Ross’s appeal and gaining his freedom, the group is focused on the following issues:
- The right to a fair trial, a bulwark of our liberty.
- Draconian sentencing practices, so common in our justice system.
- The state of mass incarceration in the US.
- The expensive, cruel and failed Drug War.
- The right to privacy and threats to the 4th Amendment and other constitutional protections.
- Prosecutorial misconduct.
- Dangerous precedents set with the Silk Road case.
The Ross Ulbricht Legal Defense group supporters come from all over the world and all walks of life, ages and political persuasions. They are people who see past the sensationalism that has clouded the case to the importance of the larger issues that it will impact. Please join us and them!
This is how the people who personally know Ross describe who he is:
He is an Eagle Scout, who loves nature and the wilderness.
He was an academic honors student and scholarship recipient.
At the Nanotech Institute at UT Dallas, he worked on the Organic Solar Cell project to develop advances in solar energy. He is the author of scientific publications on the subject.
His graduate research at Penn State also benefited humanity, through the creation and development of oxide thin films for use in technology.
He was a business owner (Good Wagon Books) who donated 10% of his gross earnings to Explore Austin, a group that mentors inner city youth; and donated leftover books to Inside Books, a prison literacy program.
He has consistently contributed to charitable efforts, including Well Aware, a project to bring clean drinking water to poor families in Kenya.
He is a beloved son, grandson and brother, who is close to his parents and extended family.
He is the friend of many, who inspires loyalty and support. People he hasn’t seen in years have stepped up to contribute bail pledges, defense funds and character letters.
He is playful, fun, and sociable, with a great sense of humor.
He is peace loving and would never condone violence.
He is movie star handsome, yet humble and unpretentious.
He is friendly and treats everyone with respect and kindness, regardless of their station, age, income or cool factor.
He is generous and helpful, there when you need him, always with a good attitude.
He is kind and compassionate, to both people and animals.
He is highly intelligent, yet never talks down to anyone.
He is idealistic and motivated to help people. A philosopher with high standards.
He is a man of integrity, impeccably honest and trustworthy. His word is as good as gold.
He is not motivated by money, and has lived a simple life with modest possessions. Most recently he shared a house with three roommates who became his close friends, hosted his parents, visited him in jail, testified on his behalf at trial.
If you knew Ross, you would like him. Everybody does. As people who know this man we caution you: do not believe everything you read!
All of the funds sent to this campaign go directly to Ross Ulbricht's Legal Defense Bitcoin address. The BitHope Foundation has no control over the received funds, on how they are spent or is in any way financially incentivized to promote this campaign. The Bitcoin address of this campaign is the Bitcoin address for donations to Ross Ulbricht as announced on the FREE ROSS ULBRICHT website.