Silk Road mastermind sentenced to life imprisonment

30 May 2015

Ross Ulbricht, 31,creator of Silk RoadThe accused mastermind behind the underground website Silk Road has been awarded a life sentence for orchestrating a scheme that allowed over $200 million worth of drugs to be sold online anonymously using the digital currency bitcoin.

Ross Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced by US district judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan, three months after he was found guilty of charges including conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, money laundering and computer hacking.

The judge also ordered Ulbricht to forfeit $183.9 million.

Prosecutors were seeking a sentence much in excess of the 20-year mandatory minimum that judge Forrest would have imposed on Ulbricht, who admitted to creating Silk Road but denied wrongdoing. He is expected to appeal his conviction.

Silk Road, which operated for over two years, allowed users to anonymously buy drugs and other illicit goods and raked in over $214 million in sales in the process, prosecutors said.

The site was shut down in October 2013 and Ulbricht was arrested by authorities.

Meanwhile, the Perth-based father of a teenage boy who died after taking drugs purchased from the website Silk Road said he held the website creator personally responsible for his son's death.

Churchlands Senior High School student Preston Bridge, 16, died in February 2013 after he fell from the balcony at a Scarborough hotel, where he had been celebrating after his school ball.

The Perth Children's Court heard the boy had taken two tablets of what was believed to be synthetic LSD, bought by a 17-year-old friend from Silk Road.

Preston's father Rodney Bridge said he "absolutely" held Ulbricht personally responsible for his son's death.

"If the website wasn't available, the kid that supplied these drugs to Preston would have never had them in the first place, so of course, I hold him responsible, 100 per cent," he said.

But Bridge said he was pleased with the sentence handed down to Ulbricht.

"Nobody should be above the law ... I don't feel anything for him," he said.

"He is drug dealer, whether it was [sold through] a website or in person.

"To get a life sentence is quite justified. This wasn't a small operation, it was quite a large operation and he facilitated sales to teenagers that wanted to experiment with drugs."

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