Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ross Ulbricht's Lawyer Blows Up Following News of the Charges Against Government Agents That "Investigated" Ulbricht

It turns out that the government only informed Ulbricht's attorney 5 weeks before trial that investigators involved in the case were being investigated themselves for stealing Silk Road bitcoins, money laundering, blackmail etc.

When Ulbricht's attorney, Josh Dratel, asked that the trial be delayed until the investigation into the investigators was completed so that he could use details of the investigation in court, prosecutors objected and the judge ruled in favor of the prosecutors. So much for Ulbricht being able to present as part of his defense the facts of the multiple Silk Road-related criminal activities of the investigators.

Here's Dratel's statement regarding the new developments (bold in original):

The government’s considerable efforts at keeping this monumental scandal from being aired at Ross Ulbricht’s trial is itself scandalous.
In addition to:
1. Keeping any information about the investigation from the defense for nearly nine months;
2. then revealing it only five weeks prior to trial;
3. then moving to keep sealed and secret the general underlying information so that Mr. Ulbricht could not use it in his defense at trial;
4. then stymying the defense at every turn during trial when the defense tried to introduce favorable evidence;
the government had also refused to agree to the defense’s request to adjourn the trial until after the indictment was returned and made public – a modest adjournment of a couple of months, since it was apparent that the investigation was nearing a conclusion.
Throughout Mr. Ulbricht’s trial the government repeatedly used the secret nature of the grand jury investigation as an excuse to preclude valuable defense evidence that was not only produced in discovery, independent of the investigation of Mr. Force, but also which was only at best tenuously related to that investigation.  In that manner the government deprived the jury of essential facts, and Mr. Ulbricht of due process.
In addition, the government failed to disclose previously much of what is in the Complaint, including that two federal law enforcement agents involved in the Silk Road investigation were corrupt.  It is clear from this Complaint that fundamentally the government’s investigation of Mr. Ulbricht lacked any integrity, and was wholly and fatally compromised from the inside. 
Also, it is clear that Mr. Force and others within the government obtained access to the administrative platforms of the Silk Road site, where they were able to commandeer accounts and had the capacity to change PIN numbers and other aspects of the site – all without the government’s knowledge of what precisely they did with that access.
In light of the information provided in the Complaint, it is now apparent to all just how relevant some of the issues raised by the defense at trial were, including:
1. The payment by Dread Pirate Roberts to a law enforcement agent for information about the investigation;
2. The ramping up of the investigation of Mr. Ulbricht in mid-2013, soon after that paid information began  flowing;
3. The creation of certain evidence at trial, such as the 2013 journal that conveniently begins – again – in Spring 2013, after the corruption alleged in this Complaint ripened.
As the evidence at trial – particularly from the government’s law enforcement witnesses – demonstrated, the Baltimore investigation and agents were inextricably involved in the evolution of the case and the evidence, as well as with alerting Mark Karpeles that he was under investigation, and meeting with his lawyers and exchanging information.
At Mr. Ulbricht’s trial, knowing full well the corruption alleged in the Complaint made public today, the government still aggressively precluded much of that evidence, and kept it from the jury (and had other similar evidence stricken from the record).
Consequently, the government improperly used the ongoing grand jury process in San Francisco as both a sword and a shield to deny Mr. Ulbricht access to and use of important evidence, and a fair trial.
Joshua L. Dratel


  1. Scumbags, one and all....

  2. Mark Twain characterized Congress as America's only distinct criminal class. If he were alive today, he would include prosecutors and judges. Prosecutors should be subject to the same laws that restrain other attorneys. Immunity for prosecutors is at the root of the corruption of the criminal justice system.

    Why should prosecutors and the judges who collude with them be immune to prosecution themselves for the serious crimes they commit routinely? Subornation of perjury is only one of the crimes they commit with impunity.