Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ross Ulbricht's College Friend Testifies Against Him

This is how the government squeezes and plays the game.

Patrick Howell O'Neill reports from the Ross Ulbricht trial for The Daily Dot:
On the verge of tears, Richard Bates entered the court room just after noon on Thursday.

He was there to tell the jury that Ross Ulbricht had confessed everything to him about Silk Road, the black market that grew into a multimillion-dollar empire in just two years.

Ulbricht is currently standing trial in Manhattan on charges related to operating Silk Road, including drug trafficking, computer crimes, fraud, and other charges. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Bates, dressed in a black suit worthy of a funeral, was frowning and looked profoundly upset. His voiced cracked and wavered throughout the testimony.

Lyn Ulbricht, Ross's mother, smiled as he entered the courtroom but Bates didn't bring himself to look at the Ulbricht family.

"I was shocked," Bates said when asked what his reaction was to UIbricht's secret. "And a little intrigued."

Bates and Ulbricht went to school together at the University of Texas in Dallas. Bates studied computer science while Ulbricht studied physics.

When Bates, a programmer at eBay, moved to Austin in 2010, Ulbricht began to ask him a torrent of programming questions. It came to the point where Bates refused to answer anymore until Ulbricht revealed why he was asking.

"I was suspicious he might be hacking into a website or something," Bates said.

So in February 2011, just after Silk Road launched, Ulbricht told him everything.

"I remember seeing the home page. I saw the green camel for the first time and pictures of drugs," Bates said.

Bates was a recreational drug user himself, although he says he stopped in the summer of 2013. He smoked marijuana, ate psychedelic mushrooms, and took Vicodin, among other illegal substances. In 2011, he began to buy most drugs off of Silk Road...

In exchange for a non-prosecution agreement, Bates is now testifying in order to avoid charges for the drugs he purchased on Silk Road under then name Melee, the tech assistance he provided and, he said, a Bitcoin exchange he was building with Ulbricht.


1 comment:

  1. People with something to lose are easy to control because they fear losing what they have to lose more than they fear losing control. Bates may not be in a cell, but he is not a free man.