Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Lyn Ulbricht: 'My son is innocent'

By Mike Power

It was an afternoon like any other. Then, Lyn Ulbricht’s life changed shape, speed and direction, in a single moment.

In November 2013, a journalist called Ulbricht’s home in Austin, Texas. Her son Ross had just been arrested, and was accused of running the Silk Road website, known as an Ebay for illegal drugs. Ross was, said the FBI, a drugs kingpin. Lyn Ulbricht says she went into shock, and panicked: “This can’t be true, there must be some mistake.”

“Ever since then, I’ve had the feeling of being carried along by a tidal wave,” she says.

That day, the phone was “ringing off the hook. There were TV camera crews coming into our neighbourhood and filming the house.”

Small wonder. Not only was her 29-year-old, physics graduate son accused of being the criminal mastermind of a revolutionary, online multimillion dollar worldwide drug-smuggling network, he was also, at that point, allegedly the cold-blooded author of two gangland hits. Later, that number would increase to six.

At his bail hearing, the prosecution added four more murder-for-hire charges, and said he paid for the torture and murders of blackmailers and informers. It was alleged he paid undercover officers $500,000 in Bitcoin, the anonymous currency used at the Silk Road, to kill his enemies.

“Ross was a wonderful child – the easiest baby I have ever met, and sweet with it,” says his mother. “I know every mother thinks that. But he was a sweet, compassionate and caring adult, too.

She can’t comprehend the possibility that we would casually order a hitman.

“He’s a totally peaceful person who never hurt a soul. Anyone who knows him will tell you that it’s inconceivable that he would ever have anything to do with murder. He is a man of staunch principle. I cannot imagine him betraying those principles by harming others with violence or in any other way – especially for selfish reasons. It is too out of character.”

Five of those murder-for hire charges have now been dropped. “For very good reason,” says Lyn Ulbricht. “I suspect that is because they do not have the evidence.”

He is still facing one hire-for-murder charge in Maryland, though a trial date has not been set.

Even though Ulbricht is not now formally charged with all of the original murder charges, they are included in submissions to the jury who will decide his fate. The case is due to start in January and many legal experts say could it define the limits of law in the digital age.

Read the rest here.

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