It took the jury only 3.5 hours to find Ross Ulbricht guilty for all seven charges, including narcotics trafficking and money laundering. He now faces a minimum of thirty years and up to life in prison. Ulbricht’s attorney Joshua Dratel plans on appealing the decision.
Oddly enough, the final few days went by with the defense presenting but a trickle of arguments, which were of practically no value. Indeed, Dratel made several calls for a mistrial throughout the proceedings. He butted heads with the prosecution and Judge Katherine Forrest repeatedly. Observing how the trial was unfolding, Dratel apparently wrote it off and had been laying the groundwork for an appeal, which Judge Forrest alluded to in a scathing critique of Dratel’s tactics. Dratel told reporters outside the courthouse:
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“What you saw in terms of length of deliberations is demonstrative of [what happens] when the defense is precluded and limited and circumscribed in the way that it was.”
During the past year, defendants charged with money laundering, unlicensed money transmission and related crimes have had a success rate of virtually nil in cases involving digital currency. Examples include Charlie Shrem, the Liberty Reserve team, Silk Road dealers and operators of unlicensed bitcoin exchanges.
Some of the more passionate libertarians allege that the entire system is tilted against them. But as observed in the Silk Road trial, authorities have invested enormous amounts of time, money and technology into bringing down criminal enterprise, even on the dark web.