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Prosecutors tighten case against alleged Silk Road mastermind

Joab Jackson | Jan. 22, 2015
Federal prosecutors used chat logs and private journals Wednesday to strengthen their case that Ross Ulbricht is Dread Pirate Roberts, the anonymous mastermind who ran the Silk Road online market.

To jump-start sales, the author of the journal describes growing 10 pounds of mushrooms to sell on the site, something he later says he regretted.

A similar journal created in February 2012 summarizes the Silk Road's rapid growth in 2011. The author describes learning how to code, and creating advanced features such as a tumbler service to make Bitcoin transactions anonymous.

The document describes the site's growing popularity, its exposure on Gawker and subsequent denouncement by two U.S. senators. The Silk Road was generating about $25,000 profit each month at that time, according to the document.

Dratel will have an opportunity to cross-examine Kiernan. He'll most likely try to convince the jury that just because Ulbricht used the computer on which the documents and files were found, that doesn't mean he necessarily created them.

That was Dratel's approach earlier in the day when he questioned the prosecution's previous witness, Department of Homeland Security agent Jared DerYeghiayan, who led the investigation of Ulbricht and coordinated his arrest.

Dratel asked DerYeghiayan if he could provide direct evidence that Ulbricht operated the Dread Pirate Roberts account on any day other than that of his arrest. "No, I cannot," DerYeghiayan replied.

Ulbricht was charged with narcotics conspiracy, engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to commit computer hacking and money laundering. The narcotics and criminal enterprise charges carry maximum penalties of life in prison. Ulbricht has pled not guilty to all charges.

The case is being overseen by District Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York.

 

 

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