Earlier this week, it was reported that Silk Road founder and early cryptocurrency user Ross Ulbricht scored a major legal victory: the US attorney leading the case filed a motion to have the indictment containing Ross’s murder-for-hire charges dropped.
Yesterday, on Twitter, the @Free_Ross account tweeted that the dropped charges were official: a judge had signed the motion and approved dropping the charges. Furthermore, the charges can never be re-filed because they were dismissed “with prejudice”:
It's official, the judge signed it. The indictment & superseding indictment (containing murder-for-hire charges) were dismissed "with prejudice," meaning they can never be re-filed. Took almost 5 years, but it's done. #freeross #freerosspetition https://t.co/jDKCYi5fNX
— Free_Ross (@Free_Ross) July 27, 2018
“It’s official, the judge signed it. The indictment & superseding indictment (containing murder-for-hire charges) were dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning they can never be re-filed. Took almost 5 years, but it’s done.”
Ross Ulbricht’s murder-for-hire charge had been hanging over him for 5 years – including throughout his trial and conviction. In fact, he was initially charged with six separate murders-for-hire. Five of those alleged cases never went to court, and the sixth one was just dismissed.
@Free_Ross has linked to this document posted to OneDrive featuring the motion to dismiss the indictment and the superseding indictment. This is the official document signed by the judge showing that the charges have been dismissed.
Robert Hur, US Attorney for the district of Maryland, was the one who originally filed a motion to have the indictment containing those charges dropped. He claims the decision to dismiss those federal charges was made in order to “allow us to direct our resources to other cases where justice has not yet been served.”
Ross Ulbricht is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Ross was charged with numerous offenses related to his operation of Silk Road, the world’s largest dark web marketplace at the time.
This is where things get a little confusing: Ulbricht was charged with money laundering, computer hacking, and conspiracy to traffic narcotics.
At the time, Ross was also charged with “procuring murder”. Essentially, it was alleged that Ulbricht ordered six contracted murders-for-hire. During Ross’s trial, these murders-for-hire were factored into Ulbricht’s sentence – even though the murders-for-hire have now been removed from the indictment.
The prosecutor believed that none of the six contracted murders-for-hire occurred.
One charge of procuring murder was to be dealt with in a separate pending trial in Maryland, and the other five were never filed. That case in Maryland is the one that has now been officially dismissed.
This is good news for the “Free Ross” movement, led by his mother, Lyn Ulbricht. It gives hope to the fact that Ross may be released one day in the future – not forced to serve his life in prison for committing no violent crimes.
Nevertheless, it’s not all good news for Ross Ulbricht and his supporters. Here’s how Reason.com explained it:
“The real tragedy haunting this otherwise good news is the mere fact of the accusations, despite never being proven in court, played into the insanely and unprecedentedly draconian sentence Ulbricht received. The failed appeal to the Supreme Court wanted them to judge the propriety of sentencing based on unadjudicated accusations, but alas the Court didn't want to bother.”
In other words, Ross’s murder-for-hire charges played a significant role in his trial. These charges factored into the sentence he received from the judge. They also factored into his appeal rejection from the Supreme Court.
A court, understandably, may be more likely to deliver a harsh verdict when that individual has six murder-for-hire charges pending against him.
Now that these charges have been dismissed, and that dismissal signed by a judge, it could indicate good news for Ross Ulbricht in the future.
Lyn Ulbricht has released a written statement about the dismissal:
“We will be very relieved to have this indictment against Ross finally dismissed. It was the only indictment against him that included murder-for-hire, which made it especially harmful. By leaving it unprosecuted for almost five years― and Ross under a cloud of unproven allegations―the Maryland AUSA poisoned Ross's case. The Sixth Amendment right to a speedy, and hopefully fair, trial was written to protect the accused from this.”
Nevertheless, Ross faces a long battle – and possibly a hopeless one. The Supreme Court has rejected Ross’s appeal, which means he has no chance of having his initial conviction and sentencing overturned or adjusted. Reason.com explains why that may have factored into the latest dismissal of charges:
“Now that Ulbricht has no chance of having his initial conviction and sentencing overturned or adjusted, it's likely the feds out of Maryland decided the indictment no longer was needed to make sure the government had some further means in their back pocket to punish Ulbricht for showing a safer, saner way around their insanely damaging drug war.”
Ultimately, the Ross Ulbricht story continues to unfold. The murder-for-hire charges were filed for dismissal on July 20, and the judge just signed that dismissal on July 27, which means they will officially be dismissed – despite the fact that the charges hung over Ulbricht for 5 years and played a role in his conviction and sentencing.
Then of course, the Bitcoin Jesus Roger Ver had this to say yesterday:
This is a chance for @realDonaldTrump to do the right thing and pardon Ross Ulbricht. @EricTrump @DonaldJTrumpJr @IvankaTrump @jaredkushner @RandPaul @Judgenap @Kaepernick7 @Dennis_Kucinich @MarthaStewart @SnoopDogg @rustyrockets @billmaher @thetweetofgod https://t.co/tfG4Ivhtbr
— Roger Ver (@rogerkver) July 26, 2018
Calling on President of the United States Donald Trump to personally pardon Ross. Then proceeded to follow it up with this message:
Carl Mark Force and other govt agents infiltrated the Silk Road by getting admin status all the way back in 2012. Perhaps the censorship imposing mods Bashco and Theymos on /r/Bitcoin are just government agents intentionally delaying crypto currency adoption.
— Roger Ver (@rogerkver) July 27, 2018
What do you guys think of the Silk Road's notorious creator Ross Ulbricht's murder-for-hire charge to be dropped after a five year battle?