Five months after the Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht’s defense team launched an appeal for conducting a new trial, the prosecution has refuted each of their arguments in an attempt to seal off his fate, according to report.
The 170-page appeal is the Silk Road founder’s last chance to overturn the life sentence slapped on him after he was convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering, and computer hacking.
The prosecutors have just rehashed the 11-day trial of Ulbricht last year in the 186-page brief filed by them.
The prosecutors have also strongly defended Judge Katherine Forrest’s decisions despite five calls for a mistrial by the defense team.
Conceivably, the strongest rebuttal was related to the controversy as regards to the role of the two federal agents who extorted and stole money from Silk Road, taking advantage of the roles they played during the investigation.
The defense team had argued that the involvement of the federal agents was hidden from the jury, and partly from the defense team itself, during the trial.
The most important arguments put forward by the prosecution are as follows:
Criminal Feds are Not Relevant to the Case
In its appeal, the defense pointed out that Mark Force, a DEA agent, and Shaun Bridges, a Secret Service agent, abused their power and access to the website of Silk Road.
While the former made an attempt to blackmail Ulbricht using a pseudonym, the latter stole bitcoins worth $800,000 through the account of an informant.
The defense team also noted that complete details of Force’s act were not revealed to them till the conclusion of the trial and Bridges’ misbehavior was not informed at all.
The prosecution argued that such disclosures are not relevant as their behavior has no bearing on Ulbricht’s guilt.
Further, the Silk Road founder has not explained as to how the information was exculpatory and how their crimes could impeach the overwhelming proof presented by the government.
Root Access Necessary for Tampering Silk Road Accounts
The defense argued that Force or Bridges could have tampered with the accounts of Silk Road using their illegal access or even planted evidence on Ulbricht’s laptop.
The prosecution replied that the account of the staff member of Silk Road that Bridges hijacked through an informant did not have the root access which is necessary for tampering with accounts.
Defense’s Arguments Actually Make Ulbricht More Guilty
This is because Ulbricht, who operated under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts” paid money to Force to obtain inside information related to the investigation against him.
The prosecution also noted that the argument that Force attempted to extort from Ulbricht is exculpatory in nature as it could be viewed as “Dread Pirate Roberts” bribing law enforcement to protect his dark web marketplace.
Judge’s Decisions Defended
The corrupt agents’ role in the investigation is only one of the arguments put forward by the defense as part of their campaign for a new trial for Ulbricht.
The defense team has also argued that the warrants issued for seizing and searching the online digital files, as well as those on the laptop of Ulbricht were limited and that the judge was not correct in precluding the defense’s cross-examination of a DHS agent.
The cross-examination could have brought out evidence suggesting that Mark Karpeles, a bitcoin entrepreneur, could be another Silk Road administrator suspect.
In addition to defending all these arguments of the defense team, the prosecution has also defended the decision of the judge in blocking the defense from presenting two expert witnesses at the end, which it referred to as “trial by ambush.”
Ulbricht’s Life Sentence Justified
The brief is concluded by defending the controversial life sentence given to Ross Ulbricht.
The defense argued that life sentence without parole given to him by wrong claims that the Silk Road founder was directly responsible for drug overdose deaths of buyers and that the deterrence effect put forward by Judge Forrest, does not warrant an extreme sentence.
The prosecution team said that Ulbricht was the mastermind behind the global drug-trafficking enterprise as far as the government was concerned and he was, therefore, responsible for all foreseeable consequences.