back to article Silk Road boss Ross Ulbricht to spend LIFE in PRISON without parole

Convicted Silk Road kingpin Ross Ulbricht has been sentenced to life in prison without parole. The 31-year-old was found guilty in February of all charges brought against him, including drugs trafficking, trafficking in fraudulent identity documents, money laundering, computer crime, and the more serious charge of "engaging in …

  1. DropBear Silver badge

    "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

    The best argument, if there ever was one, that no matter what you have done, and no matter what the alternative is - be it living in Russia or an embassy room for the rest of your life - you should NEVER, EVER take the chance to submit to what the world's most ass-backard country calls "justice". Anything else can only be better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

      The world's most ass-backard developed country perhaps (Australia and Singapore make a strong argument as well). Beyond the developed world every single majority muslim country has us beaten by a mile in any measure you can find. Fact is at least 3/4 of the world's population live in a no hope super poverty crap hole their grand kids will be born into and hardly be better off. As for the punishment yes life is way too harsh but this guy deserved 10 years minimum and 20 if they could have got him on the conspiracy to commit murder stuff.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

        An ill-informed AC posted, "Fact is at least 3/4 of the world's population live in a no hope super poverty crap hole their grand kids will be born into and hardly be better off."

        Half the world was already middle class circa 2009. Wealth and health are on the rise almost everywhere.

        There's no other word but ignorance to describe the basis of your world view. I recommend you type Hans Rosling into Google and make yourself comfortable. In about an hour you'll be much better informed.

        1. Bleu

          Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

          The other AC had the point. As long as people in the arc from India through Afghanistan to Zuma's people in Sth. Africa indulge in competitive breeding, the only future is disaster.

          I have a tiny footprint, I choose not to drive a car, not to travel by air, so am not a hypocrite to say it. Look at photos of the earth from space.

          Desertification is in the precise arc I mention (wanted to say describe, but the special meaning in geometry). Also in places favoured by nature, how much pollution is unleashed by arseholes in relatively well-off situations in Malaysia and Indondesia setting peat on fire?

          It regularly lasted for months in recent years.

          I find the Al Gore type of hypocrite (always a private jet) very annoying, but the failure to call out breeding competitions and deliberate destruction, like burning of peat just to destroy forest in Malaysia and Indonesia, similar in many places in Africa, just stripping the vegetation, western 'progressives' are so stupid, they will do anything but look at it. Good job they will be extinct in about three generations.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

          > Half the world was already middle class circa 2009. Wealth and health are on the rise almost everywhere.

          It wasn't me who authored the post you're replying to but, wherever you have sourced the above statement from, it grossly misrepresents the actual state of affairs in a number of points--which for brevity and space reasons I won't detail here.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

          >Half the world was already middle class circa 2009. Wealth and health are on the rise almost everywhere.

          The first part of your sentence is total bullshit but I will admit to the second. When you start from nothing any rise is noticeable. Still as the recent FIFA debacle shows an awful lot of the world is way too ok with corruption and its usually the countries receiving food aid.

          Fun facts:

          Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.

          At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.

          More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening.

          The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.

          According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.

          Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted.

          1. Bleu

            Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

            Among the richest 2 or so percent of people are arseholes who feel free to lecture their 'inferiors' on the atmosphmere.

            Stand up, among many other hypocrites, Gore, Pope Francis (also a tacit supporter of the mass-murder campaign during his time as a young bishop, also

            strong political opponent of the murderded bishop in San Salvador, it would not stretch it far at all to say that, while a bishop or a priest, and as an archbishop, he supported the death squads, including those who killed in San Salvador. If Benedictus were still pope, I would consider converting, Francis just seems an empty vessel, and very much complicit in that part of sud-amerique histoire

            Known as the disappeared.

            Francis knew and approved of the murders at the time.

            Until he speaks on that, he remains complicit in the crimes of the time, including the murder of the brave bishop Francis declared 'a martyr' and 'blessed',

            The reality was that Francis supported that and many similar assassinations, Sth. and Ctr. America.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

          >. Wealth and health are on the rise almost everywhere.

          If you look at the data also you will see a very large portion of this good news was due to one country (China) getting its crap together economically as well. Even there though there is plenty of legal slavery to be found. I stand by my claim %80 of the world lives on 10 dollars a day which if you do the math even accounting for the lower costs of living wouldn't be much of a middle class existence you or I would recognize. Saying it will stay this way is for two more generations would be the flaw perhaps (hopefully) but it certainly will be true for many basket case countries out there.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

      Life seems appropriate to me, for a drug (and poison) trafficking and money laundering kingpin who also paid for six murders (he wasn't tried for this but it was submitted for use at the sentencing hearing).

      That it took the jury less than half a day to return a guilty verdict on all seven charges says a lot about the relative strengths of the prosecution and defence cases.

      1. Anonymous John

        Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

        @Sorry that handle is already taken. What about all the deaths from the entirely legal alcohol and tobacco? Their suppliers go unpunished. He was certainly rightly convicted. Whether what he had done should be a crime is another matter. The war on drugs will never be won, and it's time to look for another solution.

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

        Life seems appropriate to me

        I'll return to this point later or my post won't make sense.....

        That it took the jury less than half a day to return a guilty verdict on all seven charges says a lot about the relative strengths of the prosecution and defence cases.

        I'm fairly sure everyone, even Ross, would have expected that he would be found guilty. Set notions of justice aside for a moment. The law is a set of rules, which may be right or they may be wrong, but they are written down and (realtively) easy to understand. Somethings you can do, somethings you can't, unless you want to risk trial and punishment.

        The USA has some very strict drug laws. Personally, I think the war on drugs was lost before the first shot was fired. As a concept it hasn't worked, and I'm wholly unconvinced that it can ever be made to work. Collectively, we should try something else.

        So yes, in the framework in which he chose to conduct his business, DPR very obviously broke the law, and has been sentenced to a wholly typical tariff for that sort of offence. Perhaps had he chosen to relocate out of the country before engaging in Silk Road, and avoided hosting services in the US or conducting any dealings at all in dollars or with US citizens, he could have escaped a lengthy term.

        The attempted murder charges, while as yet unanswered, are wholly inexcusable, whatever a persons views on the WoD. Numerous attempted murders conducted via hitmen can only rightly result in a whole life term. When he is convicted of such, for it seems highly likely he now will be, having been legally established as DPR, this particular tariff will be irrelelvant.

        Those that believe as I do, that the WoD is morally questionable, and in practice unwinable, do themselves no favours in defending the actions of DPR. He knew the risks, played the game, and he lost. DPR wasn't ideologically wed to ending prohibition of drugs, he was only seeking to rake in profits from an unregulated market.

      3. Laura Kerr
        FAIL

        Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

        "also paid for six murders (he wasn't tried for this but it was submitted for use at the sentencing hearing)"

        If that's true, the first post in this thread has hit the nail right on the thumb. Unproven accusations submitted for use during sentencing? Really? What sort of mob rule system allows that to happen?

        Sieg bloody heil.

        1. GH1618

          Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

          @Laura Kerr

          When a range is allowed for sentencing (in this case, 20 years to life), the judge considers the aggravating and mitigating factors in deciding on the appropriate term. The evidence that he was willing to resort to murder to protect his criminal enterprise was a strong aggravating factor. There were very few mitigating factors. Testimonials from friends saying what a nice guy he was don't count for much, no matter how many there are. "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"

          If you don't believe the judge should weigh aggravating and mitigating factors, the alternative is prescribed sentences with no flexibility. The opportunity for injustice in such a system is obvious.

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          @Laura Kerr -- Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

          "also paid for six murders (he wasn't tried for this but it was submitted for use at the sentencing hearing)"

          If that's true, the first post in this thread has hit the nail right on the thumb. Unproven accusations submitted for use during sentencing? Really? What sort of mob rule system allows that to happen?

          The trial for the murders is coming up. Those would be state charges, not federal. Here in the states there crimes at various judicial levels and thus, as in this gentleman's case, multiple trials within the appropriate jurisdiction.

    3. Boo Radley

      Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

      I agree, especially if you are actually guilty. Something like 95% of trials in US District Court (federal crimes) end up with guilty verdicts - and don't tell me that %5 not guilty are the only ones truly not guilty. But lawyers love trials, they can charge you out the ass for 'representation' and they always try to convince the defendant that they can win. After alk, it's not the lawyer risking HIS freedom.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

      I can only assume the downvotes that Mr DropBear is getting are due to this passage:

      > Anything else can only be better.

      Of course he is entirely wrong on that point. Look at Messrs Skilling and Lay, of Enron fame. The former is, in all likelihood, getting out next year-ish, while the latter got his conviction vacated following his untimely death--meaning his family get to enjoy whatever money he made, never mind all the lives ruined in the process. That was, to my knowledge, the last time that anyone of any weight got a conviction in the States (Madoff excepted, although even he did not get life, and if I were him, I would not be wanting to be out on the streets anytime soon).

      So no, Mr DropBear, the States is as good a place as any, if not better, to get caught being nasty ... as long as you are adequately rich and powerful, of course.

      And I do not see that Mr "Pirate Roberts" has much to complain about. It could have been much worse, say, had he got caught pirating films or downloading MP3.

      1. James O'Shea Silver badge

        Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

        "(Madoff excepted, although even he did not get life, and if I were him, I would not be wanting to be out on the streets anytime soon)."

        You are aware that m'man Bernie got 150 years without parole, aren't you? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Madoff

        He isn't going to have to worry about being out on the streets. Ever.

      2. Bleu

        Re: "Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me..."

        A funny comment, it made me laugh, so thx,but I would guess it is not close to what you believe.

  2. Ketlan
    WTF?

    Jeez

    In the UK he would have been very unlucky to have got ten years. A double life term? Shit.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Jeez

      I think you meant to select the joke icon.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Jeez

      Yes, the UK's legal system has quite gone to shit.

    3. Bleu

      Re: Jeez

      Whooh, I suppose I have noodled to the wrong thread.

      Warm wishes to all Regtard kameraden.

      Must go the land of Nod.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take a good look

    and let that be an example for you if you dare create an actual free market that the US doesn't control.

    The US wages wars and kill hundreds of thousands around the world when countries don't open their markets to "American Capitalism". Iraq was attacked not for their oil, but for their audacity in thinking they could sell oil for gold and cut out Uncle Sam's petro-dollar, the basis of power for the beacon of freedom.

    War against Russia is next, not because of the Ukraine, which nobody gives two shits about, but because Russia didn't let themselves get pushed around by the Western bankers.

    It's all about the money - "illegal drugs", "illegal encryption", "illegal currency" - it's only legal if you buy it from America.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Take a good look

      Or perhaps Mr. Ulbricht was just a very bad man... If the charges are true and a jury says they are... then keeping him locked up is probably a very good idea. He didn't just engage in criminal activity, he was also the brains behind it. If he hadn't gotten life in this trial, it's possible the next one (for the charges about paying to have 6 people murdered.

      Yeah, I know there's a question of his legal defense with some of the stunts they tried to pull.... and I'm sure that there will be a change in legal counsel for the appeal with his defense team's screw-ups being used as mitigating factors.

      I'm also a hardass.... deal in street drugs should merit more than slap on the wrist. For an idea of where drug dealing can lead in society, have a look at the Mexican drug cartels.

      And I'm also expecting downvotes from all those who think he should have just received a slap on the wrist and severe talking to along with a note to his mom about his bad behavior also.

      1. Adam Foxton

        Re: Take a good look

        Actually the cartels are an example of what happens when drugs are illegal

        Their weapons come from the necessity of defending themselves against armed police enforcing laws created by self proclaimed hardasses...

      2. cambsukguy

        Re: Take a good look

        Illegal drugs lead to Mexico's cartel system. A legalised system doesn't - quite the opposite; it leads to pots (haha) of money for the state.

        1. Tim Jenkins

          Re: Take a good look

          "...Total marijuana tax revenues are now expected to climb to $94 million annually by 2016, according to the latest projections. This would equate to a $1 billion dollar retail market.

          The revenue figures are high enough that Colorado now finds itself in the enviable situation of having to figure out what to do with all that money...."

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/02/12/colorados-legal-weed-market-700-million-in-sales-last-year-1-billion-by-2016/

        2. Daniel B.
          Go

          Re: Take a good look

          Illegal drugs lead to Mexico's cartel system. A legalised system doesn't - quite the opposite; it leads to pots (haha) of money for the state.

          This. Is. So. Very. True.

          Most former Mexican presidents have ended up arguing that legalization is very much needed to curb the cartel violence in Mexico. And it is probably the only way we're going to see the cartels go down. Unfortunately, the solution would require both Mexico and the US to legalize drugs.

        3. GH1618

          Re: Take a good look

          @cambsukguy

          Just imagine -- if we repealed all criminal law, we would have a crime-free society!

      3. Bleu

        Re: Take a good look

        You have double thirteens on your comment right now.

        Why do you think he was a very bad person?

        As an earlier commenter pointed out, he took the firearms trade off the site. Not that any of it means anything to me, and I do support the US right to bear arms.

        I will repeating myself, the six lethal OD cases should be given Darwin Awards, one was not heroin, it seems, but since the claimed substance is difficult to overdose on by general account, I would guess that the true cause of death was heroin in all cases.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          @Bleu -- Re: Take a good look

          Upvotes/Downvotes aren't important in this context. It just show this is a very controversial topic as evidenced by those on both sides of the debate about what's legal and what's illegal in drugs or should be legal or illegal. The problem is, they are illegal now. If the laws are changed, it's a different scenario.

          Go back and re-read my first couple of lines... words like "perhaps" and "if" are used. I wasn't on the jury. I only have the media to follow. His attitude and defense in this whole thing is disturbing... I think some have labeled him a psychopath or sociopath.(?) from his court behaviors alone.

          My judgment is reserved. Yes he might be a bad person or he's a fairly good person with a screwed up legal team. I don't really know. The way he was caught leads me to believe he was more of the "bad'... trying hire hit men, etc.. being the facilitator of illegal trade. I may speed but if caught, I'm guilty as that's the law. Similar issue here. We may disagree with the law but violating it isn't the way to change it.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Take a good look

      Oh christ, this nonsense again. What on earth does the war in Iraq have to do with someone running a market for illegal drugs, guns and pornography (and then trying to have people killed)?

    3. P_0

      Re: Take a good look

      Iraq was attacked not for their oil, but for their audacity in thinking they could sell oil for gold and cut out Uncle Sam's petro-dollar, the basis of power for the beacon of freedom.

      Evidence please.

      War against Russia is next, not because of the Ukraine, which nobody gives two shits about, but because Russia didn't let themselves get pushed around by the Western bankers.

      Evidence please.

    4. john devoy

      Re: Take a good look

      Murder , Extortion and Torture don't count when it's the US government doing it.

    5. Bleu

      Re: Take a good look

      It is a shame that you post as AC.

      'Opening markets' is nothing to do with USA strategy, the key points are, in no particular order, attack any currency arrangement that threatens the supremacy of the US dollar.

      Create havoc on behalf of the crazier people in Israel, and supported by the same people in the USA, antagonise Russia by staging coups d'etat on their borders. Antagonise China by recognising Japanese claims to tidal reefs that are concrete circles, then pretend that the islands in the Spratleys did not exist in the first place, and that their pals in the area were not playing the same game with US encouragement.

      Is that you, Matt?

  4. Paul 87

    Life without the possibilry of parole is a cruel punishment and undermines the entire concept of a liberal justice system centred on reforming criminals into useful members of society. It's also a complete waste of taxpayers money, you're spending a few hundred thousand dollars a year for 40+ years on someone who will never be able to repay their debt to society.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Paul 87 - Reforming a criminal

      into useful member of society ? Where do you get these ideas from ?

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Paul 87

      I agree that rehabilitation is an important part of a fair justice system. I suspect his complete lack of remorse and continuing deflection of responsibility didn't help him come sentencing time, since he gave no indication that he could be rehabilitated.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Paul 87

        "I agree that rehabilitation is an important part of a fair justice system. I suspect his complete lack of remorse and continuing deflection of responsibility didn't help him come sentencing time, since he gave no indication that he could be rehabilitated."

        From the article

        "In a letter submitted to the court earlier this week, Ulbricht said he realized he had "ruined my life and destroyed my future" ... "Even now I understand what a terrible mistake I made," Ulbricht wrote in his letter."

        Do we have a different definition of remorse and responsibility?

        1. Richard 26

          Re: Paul 87

          @DavCrav Regretting that he's going to be spending the next 20 years or more in prison isn't the same thing as remorse. Even in his plea bargain letter he is trying to argue that he was just providing a market, and it wasn't really his fault how people chose to use it. So, lack of responsibility and remorse. Whether true or not, *really* not the right thing to say.

          Having said that, I'm not convinced that life without the possibility of parole is an appropriate sentence in any case, certainly not ths one. However, the US has a harsh criminal justice system, and his sentence isn't out of line with it.

          1. cambsukguy

            Re: Paul 87

            > the US has a harsh criminal justice system

            At least they have a much lower crime rate than, say, the UK, oh wait.

            They still believe that high incarceration rates are the reason for a steady drop in crime over the years, despite the fact that it has happened all over, including the UK.

            Even neo-cons in the US want to reduce the criminal population, although often for financial reasons or religious ones even.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Paul 87

              "Even neo-cons in the US want to reduce the criminal population, although often for financial reasons or religious ones even."

              Which is offset by other neocons wanting to increase it and run more private prisons (for profit) which have their inmates doing forced labour (for profit) and deny them medical care (for increased profit).

              There have been a small number of convictions for corrupt judges who gave out harsh sentences in exchange for kickbacks from prison owners and it looks like there are a a lot more investigations underway.

              That doesn't even go into the fact that the USA system denies voting rights (state and federal) for those who have had criminal convictions - it's quite clear that in the old Jim Crow states this is systematically used as a way of reducing the number of black and minority voters.

              As for the dugs stuff:

              In the 1920s, one drug was outlawed and the resulting carnage where people were killed by contaminated product and civilians were increasingly caught in the crossfire between armed gangs fighting each other and police (plus the massive boost in police corruption which went along with the gangs controlling supply) led to those laws being repealed.

              That repeal led to a lot of newly minted FBI "g-men" effectively facing unemployment (and a lot of gangs seeking new ways to find income - shipping alcohol wasn't about the alcohol, it was about the money). An expedient solution was to outlaw something mostly only used by mexican farm labourers. Over the years more and more items were banned and that in turn led to gangs using those items to provide an income stream.

              Move up to the last 40 years - and we have increasingly well-armed narcogangs battling each other and well-armed police, with civilians getting caught in the crossfire. There's a war on drugs going on alright and it's the people with the drugs who are winning - each time the state makes drugs more scarce they make more profit - remember it's _all_ about the money - and the enforcers make more money too (especially in the USA where you have legalised seizure without trial)

              If narcotics were legal and taxed, they'd be so cheap that the gangs wouldn't make any money, places like Silk Road would never have existed, noone would be diluting them with any old shit they can obtain - including rat poison or lye (purity of supply) and noone would be pushing crack at school children. The odds are pretty good that the "drug problem" would go back to the levels it'd been at prior to prohibition and that would make treating it as a health problem a fairly minor issue.

              One of the big ironies of the war on drugs is that there's a shortage of cocaine and heroin/morphine for medical use. They're incredibly useful susbstances and amazingly cheap (a medical knockout dose of cocaine is less than 1 pound, the same on the streets would sell for around 100 - hence the point about profits), so growers could be contracted to supply for medical use at better pay - this was done in Turkey to convert the illegal opium supply to a legal medical one and it's the best long-term way of dealing with the afghan poppy supply.

              1. Bleu

                A medical knockout dose of cocaine

                I like severl of your points, but I suspect you may have been typing too fast there, there is no such thing as a knockout dose of cocaine, sure it has a numbing (analgesic) effect but no knockout (general anaesthetic) effect, unless you refer to taking enough to threaten heart failure.

            2. Jason Hindle

              Re: Paul 87

              "Even neo-cons in the US want to reduce the criminal population, although often for financial reasons or religious ones even."

              American conservatism is a bit more complicated than that. For every hard assed, bible thumping, hand em high judge or prosecutor, you'll find another who is more reform minded. They might even go to the same church, and use the same chapter and verse to justify their opposing positions. The awful truth though, if you're one of the former, is that it's the more reform minded states that are bringing crime levels down.

            3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Paul 87

              cambsukguy "...a steady drop in crime over the years, despite the fact that it has happened all over..."

              One theory links the crime wave to leaded petrol (gasoline), and the drop off to unleaded. Reportedly the detailed data supports the theory.

              1. BobRocket

                Re: Paul 87

                'One theory links the crime wave to leaded petrol (gasoline), and the drop off to unleaded. Reportedly the detailed data supports the theory.'

                Lead in paint and then lead in petrol correlate well with crime rates.

                http://www.ricknevin.com/uploads/The_Answer_is_Lead_Poisoning.pdf

                Lead also correlates better to the reduction of IQ in the Dunedin study than useage of marijuana.

                There is reason to believe that youngsters who are suffering from lead poisoning and displaying the antisocial behaviour of smoking pot may in fact be unknowingly self medicating to mitigate the effects of the lead.

                Lead exposure damages the myelin sheath.

                There is some evidence that some compounds in marijuana mitigate against this damage (sufferers of MS also exhibit myelin sheath damage).

        2. Eponymous Cowherd

          Re: Paul 87

          "In a letter submitted to the court earlier this week, Ulbricht said he realized he had "ruined my life and destroyed my future" ... "Even now I understand what a terrible mistake I made," Ulbricht wrote in his letter."

          Do we have a different definition of remorse and responsibility?

          To me that reads like he is sorry he got caught and is sorry that his life has been destroyed. It shows little sign of remorse for his victims.

        3. Steve Knox
          Holmes

          Re: Paul 87

          From the article

          "In a letter submitted to the court earlier this week, Ulbricht said he realized he had "ruined my life and destroyed my future" ... "Even now I understand what a terrible mistake I made," Ulbricht wrote in his letter."

          Do we have a different definition of remorse and responsibility?

          Never heard of deathbed confessions?

        4. Tom 13

          Re: Do we have a different definition of remorse and responsibility?

          Not necessarily.

          I would however suggest you think about the meaning of the word 'credulity'. While it is not one of my weaknesses, it seems to afflict far too many posters to this site.

      2. bailey86

        Eh?

        '"Even now I understand what a terrible mistake I made,"

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Life without the possibilry of parole is a cruel punishment

      I'd agree, but the problem is arses like yourself have already eliminated the humane solution which is the death penalty. The justice system isn't about reforming thugs, it's about protecting society. Reform is entirely secondary and should be sought only when the primary objective is not endangered.

    4. Bleu

      You are so right

      ...but I am glad you have the death sentence for Tsarnaev.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    10 to 20 years yes, double life? No.

    My opinion is yes he set up a "hidden" website that facilitated in the selling of illegal items and various illegal practises, he wasn't tried for the murder allegations so I'm not sure what messed up legal system would allow that to be taken into consideration when sentencing but there you go however he did not supply anything himself (as far as I am aware) and even if he did he would be tried as a drug dealer.

    What if someone became an e-bay/amazon seller and sold stuffed toys filled with illegal items, made both companies a lot of money and got caught? Does anyone honestly believe that even if the ceo's of those companies knew about it and proof of that emerged but turned a blind eye that they would ever see the inside of a jail cell?

    This appears to me to be not what you know but who your know and your status in society.

    1. P_0

      What if someone became an e-bay/amazon seller and sold stuffed toys filled with illegal items, made both companies a lot of money and got caught? Does anyone honestly believe that even if the ceo's of those companies knew about it and proof of that emerged but turned a blind eye that they would ever see the inside of a jail cell?

      This argument would work... if the jury was made up of five year olds. Ulbricht knew exactly what he was doing. His personal journals give mountains of evidence that he set up SR for the purpose of facilitating illegal drugs transactions. Not only that but he took a percentage of every transaction. He knew exactly what he was doing. Life is a harsh sentence, but Ulbricht wasn't some deer caught in the headlights.

    2. Mark 65

      I'd say there's certainly an argument that if he didn't wish to sell illegal shit then why setup a hidden Tor site? If you want to be an eBay or Amazon alternative then surely you want to operate in the mass market? I'm pretty confident he knew exactly what he was doing at every stage, was not a complete bastard as evidenced by his setting up something to do with the welfare of participants, lost the plot when it came to the alleged hits, and is only really remorseful because he got caught. In my opinion anyone who sets up an online anything-goes bizarre as a hidden Tor site knows what they're doing and thinks they won't get caught. Further support of this comes from the actual setup of the site as referred to in previous articles. But, as they say, complacency breeds contempt and his op-sec got somewhat sloppy.

      This aside I believe your assertion of 10-20 is on the money for the crimes considered. If you can destroy the financial system through utter greed and receive billions if not trillions in taxpayer bailouts whilst all the time keeping your job and a clean sheet and get fuck all in the way of punishment then I don't see a valid reason why you get a never to be seen again jail term for selling willing participants the shit they desire.

  6. Tim Worstal

    Selling drugs to people who want to buy drugs sounds like a socially useful occupation to me.

    That next trial for the sex alleged murders, that's rather diffferent of course.

    1. Turtle

      @Tim Worstal

      Apparently, you've never had to live in a neighborhood where the externalities of drug-use really manifest them.

      Here's the problem with libertarianism: it eventually begins to look like nothing more than economically-justified amorality.

      1. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: @Tim Worstal

        Externalities of drug use, or externalities of drug prohibition?

        The social problems associated with illegal drugs stem more from the fact of their illegality (which governments have control over) than from any inherent property of the drugs themselves (which they don't), and the experiment with alcohol prohibition in the USA in the 1920s should have proved this once and for all.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Tim Worstal

          I disagree with the assertion that it is the externalities of prohibition that are the problem. The turf wars certainly, but what of the utterly drug-fucked PCP and Ice users with the propensity for violence? Do the drugs' effects suddenly change because of their legality? Would legality necessarily lower crime?

          There's no evidence to suggest the sudden arrival of bargain basement prices given there would be a system of licensed entities for the formation and supply which naturally lends itself to monopoly pricing. No Government would allow a total free-for-all as quality would certainly need to be controlled. I mean, it's not as if businesses like big pharma haven't managed to keep pricing of things artificially high in other areas is it? In which case you still have your issue of poor addict cannot afford fix...where's the money going to come from? Burglary? Mugging? I think the whole "make it legal and all the crime goes away" is utter delusional bollocks. There'll be a difference for sure but what that difference becomes is anyone's guess.

          1. JulieM Silver badge

            Re: @Tim Worstal

            I think the whole "make it legal and all the crime goes away" is utter delusional bollocks. There'll be a difference for sure but what that difference becomes is anyone's guess.

            Can it really be any worse, however it turns out, than what we have now?

            but what of the utterly drug-fucked PCP and Ice users with the propensity for violence? Do the drugs' effects suddenly change because of their legality? Would legality necessarily lower crime?

            Sometimes, it's people that are the problem. If they weren't getting wrecked and violent on crystal meth or PCP, they probably would be getting wrecked and violent on something else. Probably alcohol.

            Also, given the importance of Set and Setting, I would expect that for a person taking addictive drugs, their behaviour when supplies were running dangerously low would depend on the ease of re-stocking. So I'd stick my neck out ans say actually, yes, the drugs' effects probably do change.

            And by definition, legalisation must lower crime; because if something people were doing before that used to be a crime, isn't a crime anymore, there is less crime being committed if they carry on still doing it. Freeing up law enforcement personnel to deal with any additional real crime that they might commit in addition to their no-longer-a-crime drug use. If they are mugging old ladies to pay for their habits, by all means lock them up. But if they are managing to hold down a responsible job, why shouldn't they enjoy a bit of recreational drug use while off the clock?

            Prohibition isn't working. Abstinence-only education only engenders distrust for authority, when the propaganda is revealed to be false. All that has happened is that the market has been handed over to criminals; resulting in a race to the bottom, with supplies of drugs only just good enough to keep the punters coming back and not adulterated with anything too dangerous. The stigma attached to being a drug addict actively deters people from seeking help at the time when it is most likely to work, instead forcing them into the hands of a dubious industry that exists only to further itself.

            I am talking, of course, of the "rehabilitation" industry. The twelve-step program is pretty much designed always to fail. I find the whole idea that one is a miserable wretch incapable of controlling themself and always subservient to some "higher power" deeply problematic. Surely one should be the controller of their own destiny, truly in charge of the situation at all times? But there would be no need for rehabs at all, if it were possible to turn cravings on and off like a tap (and it should be; the most addictive substances are basically hormone mimics. You would need to be able to analyse the balance of natural and artificial molecules in the bloodstream, and administer tiny doses of a drug; not enough to suppress the body's production of the hormone being mimicked, but nonetheless mitigating the worst effects of deficiency as far as possible.) So nobody is working on the problem, but it would be fundamentally do-able if only people weren't getting fat on the present, messed-up situation.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: Externalities of drug use, or externalities of drug prohibition?

          The externalities of drug use preceded the criminalization of drug use, so the question ignores the established facts of history.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Uh huh,

      I don't always agree with Mr. Worstal but i do today. The sex (six) alleged murders would never have even manifested themselves if:

      Drugs were legal

      Drug dealing penalties were not so harsh.

      But what do I know? I am still waiting to hear valid arguments from people who think making drugs illegal is a GOOD idea.

      Please come forth. Remember, that if you argue on morality or health grounds, the evidence will defeat you.

      1. Thorne

        Re: Uh huh,

        "But what do I know? I am still waiting to hear valid arguments from people who think making drugs illegal is a GOOD idea.

        Please come forth. Remember, that if you argue on morality or health grounds, the evidence will defeat you."

        I quote the Cartman argument "Drugs are bad, because if you do drugs, you're a hippie and hippies suck!"

        Thorne : 1

        AC: 0

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Uh huh,

        I do have a problem with the blanket term "drugs". Meth, bath salts, and some others are nasty shit and will definitely mess you up. It's not the problem with the user being stronger than the drug, it's the effect of those drugs. You really need to see what happens to people who take those particular drugs to understand my stance. Some would be fine legal. Others will get a resounding "hell no!" from me and those who have affected by them.

        Perhaps a better definition of which drugs should be legal and thus regulated and taxed?

    3. Tapeador
      Stop

      @tim worstall

      But how socially useful is it to supply people's wants whatever? Some wants ought not be satisfied. I think a vast proportion of illegal drug users didn't (before they started, and afterwards) satisfy the requirements for informedness, impulse-control, judgement, awareness of consequences, brain development, personal responsibility, and optimal-decision-making-capacity which make up any sensible definition of autonomy required for the idea of total free choice to make moral or logical sense. This gives society and the state a moral duty to steward people away from things which will harm them - for the sake of more valuable freedoms, i.e. for the sake of their freedom to make the good life for themselves.

      Because drugs also basically fuck lots of people's minds for good. Nobody can be said to freely choose to destroy their choices like that. It's absurd. And helping them do it is not socially useful, it's socially destructive.

      1. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: @tim worstall

        But how socially useful is it to supply people's wants whatever? Some wants ought not be satisfied.

        You just described the exact situation we have now. The supply of drugs is unlicensed and unregulated. Anyone can score anything they like, if they know the right number to call, irrespective of whether or not they should.

        I think a vast proportion of illegal drug users didn't (before they started, and afterwards) satisfy the requirements for informedness, impulse-control, judgement, awareness of consequences, brain development, personal responsibility, and optimal-decision-making-capacity which make up any sensible definition of autonomy required for the idea of total free choice to make moral or logical sense.

        Again, you are describing the situation we have now. Abstinence-only education is what creates this situation. Don't sugar-coat it; but the simple fact is that responsibly taking small amounts of recreational drugs in the correct social setting is not just harmless -- it's actually beneficial. Of course you can be irresponsible, and that's where the problems begin. You need a clear idea of the difference between passing a joint around at a party, versus having an actual drug problem.

        This gives society and the state a moral duty to steward people away from things which will harm them - for the sake of more valuable freedoms, i.e. for the sake of their freedom to make the good life for themselves.

        Yes, indeed.

        The present system of prohibition and abstinence-only education is a mess. I believe that people taught to make informed decisions, in an environment where non-problematic recreational drug use was tolerated and subject to regulations regarding product labelling, purity and supplies to minors or other vulnerable persons, would be better off generally. Maybe people would use recreational drugs responsibly; maybe they would decide they just didn't need the For sure, it would create challenges; but none of them need be insurmountable.

        Unless you have some sort of irrational phobia about the idea of people using drugs in and of itself, I honestly don't see how a properly-regulated system for supplying drugs legally would be in any way problematic.

      2. (AMPC) Anonymous and mostly paranoid coward

        Re: @tim worstall @tapeador

        Hmmm,

        Locking up people for what is basically the equivalent of being a bootlegger in the 30's (often selling substances that are perceptibly less harmful) or a speakeasy customer is not a good societal choice. It is expensive, it destroys families and communities and it makes rehabilitation and proper care difficult, since the problem one has is basically illegal.

        The problem with drugs legislation is that it attempts to solve a medical problem (abuse and addiction) with legal means (repression and incarceration, sometimes for very long periods).

        This is not the right solution, drugs should be legalized and controlled by the state. If someone wants to get high, let them do so. As long as they don't hurt anyone in the process, where is the problem? If they do start hurting people in the process (i.e, driving while intoxicated, acting unsociably) that is a different story and can be dealt with separately.

        Money from drug sales would be better spent helping to educate people on the risks and benefits and helping some other people overcome their addiction issues with professional, medical help. Giving 500 billion USD to drug cartels is just stupid. The whole mess could be solved rather quickly (or at least brought under control) by legalizing, taxing and controlling drug use. There are multitudes of evidence that support these statements, just look at places like Colorado, Holland, Switzerland, and Portugual (and even the UK, which dabbled with legalised heroin programs for a while).

    4. Bloakey1

      <snip>

      "That next trial for the sex alleged murders, that's rather diffferent of course."

      They will arrest his girlfriend next, the charge will be "receiving swollen goods and foreign deposits".

      I await the arrest of all those chaps I worked with in the eighties who were facilitating drug imports to the USA and illegal arms shipments to embargoed countries. I believe they hung out in a place in Virginia and were trained on a farm thereabouts.

      Ohh, and put that bastard Bush (either one will do) on the list along with his sock puppet Blair.

  7. bailey86

    Colossal, global stupidity

    First off - conspiracy to commit murder is wrong - but I no longer trust the US of Oil so put that aside. Selling services for murder is wrong (sadly/ironically if drugs were legal then disputes could be settled in court and there would far, far less demand for hitmen). As for selling passports - well if there were more peacemakers in the world and fewer warmongers then people wouldn’t be so desperate to bend the system.

    So, a person helped willing buyers buy from willing sellers - and this is wrong why?

    My understanding is that there was quality feedback/reviews. This guy should be given a knighthood for saving hundreds/thousands of lives of people who bought good quality pills from reviewed sources rather than some ketamine laced death pill from a dodgy asshole in a nightclub.

    Even the fucking judge knew he was a good guy

    ‘she described Ulbricht as "a complicated person" who didn't "fit the typical criminal profile"

    before spinelessly handing out a sentence worse than what the prosecution asked for.

    Now that judge, has she never, ever done drugs - has none of her children, friends, relatives, associates ever done any illegal drugs at all. Of course they have - we all have. So why don’t we ALL go down to the jails and hand ourselves in. Why don’t we all just go now and sit in prison.

    BTW - Let’s look at Katherine Bolan Forrest

    According to WP - ‘In August 2014, Forrest dismissed a price-fixing suit against Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Glencore. She held that, although the defendant's actions did affect the aluminium marketplace, the plaintiffs failed to show the defendants had intended to manipulate prices.’

    Hmmmm.. Nothing dodgy there at all - she sounds like a model crusader for justice. Nonsensical lying double-speak of which Orwell would be proud.

    And she has two children - and I assume she loves them as much as we all love our own children. I wonder - what would she do if she heard one of her kids had had a spliff - would she immediately march them off to jail and throw them into one of the USA’s brutal gulags they call jail. No, probably not.

    We have a fucking Prime Minister who’s probably done some coke (he won’t deny it cos then someone would probably come out and say that he did). So why isn’t HE in prison? After all, that would mean he’s an evil drug-taking sicko.

    The reality is that we all take fun stuff when we’re younger - and then grow out of it - maybe apart from the occasional spliff. Some people have seriously fucked up lives (mainly due to alcohol problems in the family - ironically, if more people smoked cannabis and fewer drank alcohol then there would be less abuse/violence around) and these people hit the hard drugs to shut out their problems. These people need help not jail.

    Reality check number two - legalising drugs has been a success in Portugal (drug use down) and Colarado (with the bonus of hugely increased tax income).

    Reality check number three - because there is so much illegal money to be made in drug import/export the very worst of humankind get to be extremely rich and more powerful than governments (see South America or examples). These psychopaths then get to fund wars, carry out trafficking, murders, bribery, corruption and extortion - so then everyone suffers.

    You want the world to be a better place - then legalise all drugs. It’s time everybody stopped being hypocrites.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Colossal, global stupidity

      Even the fucking judge knew he was a good guy

      ‘she described Ulbricht as "a complicated person" who didn't "fit the typical criminal profile"

      "Didn't fit the typical criminal profile" != "a good guy".

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Colossal, global stupidity

      "We have a fucking Prime Minister who’s probably done some coke (he won’t deny it cos then someone would probably come out and say that he did). So why isn’t HE in prison? After all, that would mean he’s an evil drug-taking sicko."

      OK, nice rant and everything. But you seem to have mixed up the case here. Mr Ulbricht was a drug dealer, not a drug user. We treat them differently. Since he was a drug dealer, selling billions in drugs, he can hardly be compared to a guy offering you a spliff.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Colossal, global stupidity

        " he can hardly be compared to a guy offering you a spliff."

        Try telling the UK govt that simple fact!!!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Colossal, global stupidity

      "Of course they have - we all have" - nope, not all. I haven't and I'm over the half century

    4. P_0

      Re: Colossal, global stupidity

      So, a person helped willing buyers buy from willing sellers - and this is wrong why?

      It broke several federal laws. You're obviously implying selling illegal drugs is not wrong or unethical. But that's just your opinion. There are plenty of people who disagree with you. But regardless, it is illegal, and Ulbricht knew full well the gravity of the crime, as he even panicked after telling two confidants that he was DPR. His journal entries make it clear he knew just how serious a crime he was committing.

      Even the fucking judge knew he was a good guy

      No she didn't.

      And she has two children - and I assume she loves them as much as we all love our own children. I wonder - what would she do if she heard one of her kids had had a spliff - would she immediately march them off to jail and throw them into one of the USA’s brutal gulags they call jail. No, probably not.

      What has this got to do with anything?

      1. Thorne

        Re: Colossal, global stupidity

        "It broke several federal laws. You're obviously implying selling illegal drugs is not wrong or unethical. But that's just your opinion. There are plenty of people who disagree with you. But regardless, it is illegal, and Ulbricht knew full well the gravity of the crime, as he even panicked after telling two confidants that he was DPR. His journal entries make it clear he knew just how serious a crime he was committing."

        But he wasn't selling drugs. He was managing a website that allowed others to sell drugs. That's the difference.

        The problem is the people he tried to have killed, not the Silkroad website.

  8. jake Silver badge

    Keep in mind that "life" actually means ...

    ... about a quarter century here in the USofA.

    He'll be paroled before the Feds need to pay for his old-age medical issues.

    1. cambsukguy

      Re: Keep in mind that "life" actually means ...

      Um, Life without parole includes parole?

    2. Turtle

      Re: Keep in mind that "life" actually means ...

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parole#Modern_history

      In the United States, courts may specify in a sentence how much time must be served before a prisoner is eligible for parole. This is often done by specifying an indeterminate sentence of, say, "15 to 25 years", or "15 years to life". The latter type is known as an indeterminate life sentence; in contrast, a sentence of "life without the possibility of parole" is known as a determinate life sentence.[7]

      On the federal level, Congress abolished parole in the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 (Pub. L. No. 98-473 § 218(a)(5), 98 Stat. 1837, 2027 [repealing 18 U.S.C.A. § 4201 et seq.]). Federal prisoners may, however, earn a maximum of 54 days good time credit per year against their sentence (18 U.S.C.A. § 3624(b)).

      You are probably thinking about "compassionate release" but I am not sure how it works, and it is *very* far from being given to whomever requests it - even if the person for whom it is being request is undeniably moribund.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Keep in mind that "life" actually means ...

        Well, Compassionate Release was how Al Capone finally got out of Alcatraz. Then again, he WAS terminally at the time, out of his mind, and barely lasted a year afterward.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Keep in mind that "life" actually means ...

      "He'll be paroled before the Feds need to pay for his old-age medical issues."

      You're talking about Compassionate Release, not Parole (which BTW doesn't exist in the federal prison system).

  9. calumg

    He was a drug dealer

    My first thought was that Ulbricht didn't sell drugs himself, so shouldn't be found guilty of drug dealing.

    But normal drug dealers are just middle-men between drug producers and drug consumers. That's exactly what Silk Road is. So yes, I guess Ulbricht WAS a drug dealer, with the aid of software in this case. He was a part of the chain, not an innocent bystander. He doesn't even have the excuse that he came from a challenging background where drugs were commonplace and there were no other employment options. He simply made a cool and calculated decision to sell drugs for profit.

    For a first offence, lifetime without parole is too severe, and I believe he is sincere in his remorse which should also be taken into consideration when sentencing. As usual, internet crimes are punished more severely than real-world crimes, which I fundamentally disagree with.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He was a drug dealer

      "For a first offence, lifetime without parole is too severe, and I believe he is sincere in his remorse which should also be taken into consideration when sentencing. As usual, internet crimes are punished more severely than real-world crimes, which I fundamentally disagree with."

      Then explain why he LACKED remorse in the rest of the trial. This smacks too much of "currying sympathy," so as they say half the truth, twice the lie. IOW, trying to curry sympathy at that point only hurt his case because he looks like a liar. If he were REALLY sorry, he'd have demonstrated it much earlier, particularly by pleading guilty.

      1. Spoonsinger

        Re: He was a drug dealer

        I can think of quite a few pubs in the local area where I could buy drugs from their denizens. Does this mean that the councilors who allow the pubs to get a license which in in turn have drug trafficking begin conducted on their premises should be banged up in the clink? (Yeh! less libdems).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He was a drug dealer

      FYI @calumg: It wasn't an internet crime it was a real crime. I'd example an internet crime as hacking a company database and selling on details or, where less harm occurs, making a movie generally available. He was facilitating the selling of real tangible drugs to real people in the real world. That's not an internet crime it is, whether you think it should be or not, a real-world crime just using the internet for general facilitation and anonymity. Just because your server effectively stands on the street corner in your place doesn't make it any different.

      I'm not sure what your "for a first offence" rhetoric is about. First offence leniency is generally for petty crimes. I don't think I've ever heard of a judge being lenient for first time drug kingpin offences. The length of the sentence is too harsh but I don't think there's grounds for leniency anywhere. I think he's still struggling to get over the fact he was caught. Probably believed he was invincible.

    3. GH1618

      Re: He was a drug dealer

      The main charge was "engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise." He was not merely "part of the chain," he was the kingpin. That's why this was such a serious crime. The minimum sentence is 20 years. He got life because the judge looked at all the aggravating and mitigating factors and there was very little of the latter.

  10. BobRocket

    Distributed distribution

    I think his big mistake was that he is greedy, he could have made the Silk Road a distributed marketplace (like Tor/Blockchain itself) but he chose a centralised version (not unlike Amazon) where he got a cut of all transactions (like Bezos)

    Of course a distributed marketplace wouldn't have made him rich/powerful (and it wouldn't have got him life)

    The fact is that the demand that was serviced by the Silk Road was serviced by other means before, it is still out there and will be serviced by other means again. (the Silk Net perhaps)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Distributed distribution

      Out of interest, do you have any examples of how such a block-chain facilitated distributed marketplace would work between buyers and sellers where either purely electronic goods (software downloads) or physical goods are transacted?

      I have no interest in serving life as a SR3 architect but, as you seem to be indicating a distributed market is possible, I am interest in how such a thing would work.

      1. BobRocket

        Re: Distributed distribution

        If you read the Wired article (linked elsewhere) other marketplaces have sprung up (and always will due to sufficient demand being the driver).

        I'd rather see a legal marketplace established with full traceability for quality control established (you can use a blockchain for that), relying on user feedback is ok for the quality of the service but not for the contents of the product.

        The fact is that there will always be more harms generated by an illegal market than a legitimate one simply because there are greedy and unscrupulous people about, in a legal market there is recourse to the law, in an illegal one there isn't.

    2. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: Distributed distribution

      For the next generation of underground Internet marketplaces, distributing the computation and storage among several servers ought to mean no individual sysadmin need ever be in possession of enough information at any one time to identify any activity positively; although there would still be room to incorporate some measure of redundancy.

      Implement the same database schema on multiple server instances; then corresponding records on each one contain some mix of real and fake information, chosen to provide a sensible balance between plausible deniability and multiple redundancy (so a complete correct record can be assembled, even if one or more servers becomes unreachable; but it is not obvious, even with the full set of data, which one of several equally-plausible possibilities might be correct). The distribution of real and fake data among the several servers need not be the same per record.

      The client's ordering system would distribute records, each containing a mix of some correct and some bogus data, among several database servers.

      The vendor's dispatching system would query the details of a transaction from enough servers, at the very last moment before they are required; separate the real data from the false data; and then ensures the details are forgotten again immediately after they are no longer required (for instance, once the shipping label has been printed, there is no need to keep a copy of the purchaser's address anymore).

      I think this idea actually has legs.

      Note: In the event of any related patent dispute, the foregoing, being published and date-stamped on a public Internet forum, may be considered evidence of prior art.

  11. Phuq Witt
    Mushroom

    The Real Scary Thing...

    ...is that, even if you've no intention to ever set foot in the USofA, they reserve the right to illegally kidnap extraordinarily render you from anywhere in the world, torture enhancedly interrogate you and bang you up in one of their jails for the rest of your life. And, chances are, your own government will just stand idly by and watch.

    Seriously. The sooner someone nukes that fucking country from orbit and does the rest of the planet a favour, the better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Real Scary Thing...

      I agree with your sentiment but not your methodology as the cake is not at fault just the thick veneer of shit-head icing on top of it. However, thankfully, all empires eventually come to an end either gracefully or ungracefully. We are starting to witness the decline of the US financial empire at present - hence their totalitarian bullying behaviour - it is just a matter of how quickly the job is completed and what replaces it.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: The Real Scary Thing...

        Trouble is, none to date have faced an empire in a genuine position to take everyone else with them. That's why wars turned cold or proxy in the last few decades. This is the main reason Vietnam ran the way it did; since the Soviet Union was involved, they couldn't cross certain lines for fear of making the Soviets retaliate with full force. ANY large scale conflict risks antagonizing a nuclear power (US, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, etc.)...with nightmarish consequences.

  12. Your alien overlord - fear me

    For those n00bs wanting drugs to be legitimised so they can be taxed and therefore crime will go down. Haver you heard of tobacco and alcohol? Both get taxed to the hilt because they make you dependant on them and therefore will pay whatever is asked because you need them. And therefore everyone on a day drip to Calais tries to smuggle in as much as they can back to Blighty because it's cheaper. And if they can smuggle in a few crates of 'baccy, next time it just be 'for personal use' drugs, then underage sex slaves and so on. Slippery slope.

    Also the 'medical benefits' argument is equally flawed - walking around with a stupid grin doesn't cure you of cancer. Shocker I know, but when 'baccy was first brought over from our colonies, it was a 'cure all'. Now we know different. Same as any other junk that's smoked. It's a death sentence.

    1. BobRocket

      venting from the rear end

      Not everyone who drinks alcohol or smokes tobbaco is dependent on them (although some are), they are priced to maximise return.

      Not everyone on a day trip to Calais is a smuggler.

      If illicit recreational substances were legitimised not every day tripper would become a smuggler.

      Medicinal benefits of opiates are well proven, medicinal benefits of marijuana are difficult to prove because the authorities prevent research

      As for the 'Slippery slope' argument, not every person who tries illicit substances becomes a hardened recidivist criminal however it is a fact that every junkie/criminal and murderer there has ever been has been born, perhaps we should stop all people from breeding, that'll cure it.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Finally...

    ...a proper sentence for a digital crim.

  14. Bleu

    There was a nice article

    by Ulbricht's housemate at the time he was setting it up, he sounded like a pleasant person.

    Did a couple of quick searches, no hits on the same article. It was in a US publication, maybe The Atlantic. Sorry I cannot give a link.

    Interesting questions: just how much money is he supposed to have made from Silk Road?

    Were his attempts at recruiting contract killers real, and given that he seems to have failed (or been entrapped) on that, wasn't it a sign of few lunatics being on the site?

    As for the six alleged overdoses, there is nothing to say they bought product laced with, say, rat poison. If they were so eager to shoot overdoses of relatively high-quality product up (one can assume heroin), I hardly think Ulbricht is to blame. Hand a Darwin award to each of the six.

    Really don't think he deserves more than gains taken (and sure the state will not make any good use of the money) and a liveable term. Many who have directly and personally done *far* worse receive much more lenient sentences.

    Anyway, the NSA will likely have an interest in his early release.

    Fascinating episode.

    1. Super Fast Jellyfish

      Re: There was a nice article

      Two parter on Wired: http://www.wired.com/2015/05/silk-road-untold-story/

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any room there for Sepp Blatter ?

  16. Buzzby
    Holmes

    Death by Drugs

    A bit of history. Some 25 or so years ago I used to record programs through the night, I worked days, and one was an American program about death from drugs.

    This was no drug wars just freedom of information numbers on deaths from drugs. I cannot recollect the real numbers but I can give some ideas as to the totals. Presuming the dates were mid late 80's they were as follows;

    Alcohol & tobacco were around 500000 then. Cocaine & heroin were maybe 500 or less, I am uncertain. Weed or marijuana was zero that I do remember.

    This maker you wonder. Look what fortunes some people made from prohibition, the Kennedy's were one were they not? How about the mafia. I am sure there were more. I welcome comments from across the pond.

    As is said above legalizing drugs will stop this major big business in it's tracks. However incarceration for drug offenses is also big business. So who has the best political pull.

    I do wonder what will happen in the future.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Death by Drugs

      What I am waiting for is for one of you 'legalise it' geniuses out there to explain just how drugs should be legalised.

      My Brother in Law (Sister's husband) became a speed freak in the good old '60s when most of us oldies began to try a little of this or that, South London where I come from was a very free place for any kind of gear you might want, although coke wasn't common then,speed; amphetamines of various kinds, brown bombers, black bombers, mandys, Sulphate, Librium a whole range of barbiturates was al available, as was a range of cannabis that I don't think exists today. Rocky (maroccan resin) Black rocky, Paki Black, Gold Leb, Nepalese, and so on.

      My Brother in Law never got out of it as most of us did, as he got older rarely keeping a job for long, his health got worse, his teeth fell out and finally at about the age of fifty his heart quit along with his renal systen and liver. All caused byspeed and the associated drugs that most speed freaks are into. Years later another Brother in Law who was rather more catholic in his drug tastes took a cocktail of recreational chemicals over a weekend at a serious party, he becam unconscious for some hours his brain became starved of oxygen, he went into a coma and some two or three weeks later they turne doff the life support.

      Around the Millenium I lived in California and my girlfriend had a son in his thirties he became a crankster (Speed freak in Californian) when he was 14, had been close to total liver and renal failure several times in his lifeand was still fighting to become clean when I knew him.

      My point is, how do you prevent that kind of thing happening, these three guys were all basically good people but trapped by drugs that were illegal but very available, if drugs were fully legalised then presumably they would become more available and those that are susceptible would be more like to succomb and die. I don't have any answers but I don't personally beleive that Carte Blanche legality is an answer either.

      I experimented with a few things including magic mushrooms and various types of speed in the '60s and '70s but was not that impressed so I am not a 'never touched 'em and nobody else should' type, I just don't like some of the results that I have seen from drugs.

      1. BobRocket

        Re: Death by Drugs

        'My point is, how do you prevent that kind of thing happening'

        The answer is that in some cases you can't.

        Just as in some cases alcoholics will drink themselves to death.

        In the case of alcohol there is education and a support network for those who recognise they have a problem and wish to do something about it, we treat it as a medical problem (as all addictions are).

        We don't criminalise the possession and enjoyment of alcohol because the vast majority of users suffer negligible harm from occasional recreational use.

        Currently there is no regulation of the illicit drugs that people consume, there is no quality control, no age restrictions and no duties/taxes raised that could be spent on mitigating any of the harms that may result from such consumption.

        We spend huge amounts of peoples hard earned money fighting the 'War on Drugs' to no avail, where there is demand there will be supply.

        If drugs were legitimised there would still be harms, foolish people would still get themselves into trouble (as they always will) but at least real education (not 'Reefer Madness') will be available, help for those that recognise they have a problem would be available.

        Every year approximately 80,000 people in England and Wales are convicted or cautioned for possession of drugs.

        Those criminal records harm us all.

        1. Mark 65

          Re: Death by Drugs

          I think that one possible outcome that people aren't considering is that by legalising drugs you very definitely have to fund the medical treatment of the issues. After all you have explicitly sanctioned their use. Good thing or bad? Well, you could argue that we are doing so currently and that by legalising and taking a cut the Government could better fund the outcomes much like it can keep upping the tax on cigarettes. But, oh no, that leads to smuggling and we are almost back to square one.

          I'm interested in knowing where all these cartels would go to? They cannot possibly compete with the pharmaceutical giants so does that mean they'd monopolise the supply of raw product to the them being the processors or what? Do they become Government tax avoiding smugglers given that is already part of their skill-set?

          1. BobRocket

            Re: Death by Drugs - the tax gap

            We already fund the medical treatments, usually at the expensive late stages due to people being in fear of seeking earlier intervention.

            The total tax gap is estimated to be £34bn, which is 6.8 per cent of tax.

            The excise duty portion of that gap is estimated at £2.9bn of which £1.6bn is tobacco related. (over £6 of an £8 packet of cigarettes is tax)

            There is no reason to believe that a properly regulated recreational drugs market will have a higher proportion of evasion.

            The cartels will carry on dealing in arms/people/organs/drugs/etc. as before except they will be largely shut out of the UK domestic drugs market (all of the natural drugs grow well in the UK, it is just another farmed crop and we have a thriving pharmacuetical industry to supply synthetics)

            Cartel activities could be more easily curbed by jailing a few bankers instead of fining the shareholders when they facilitate money laundering.

            (the global illicit drugs business was worth around $500bn in 2008 when the credit crunch happened, it has been stated that it was only this very liquid money supply that kept the banks afloat. the banks have been fined billions for complicity and not one CEO has been convicted)

            As for the DPR, he got what he deserved, he knew it was an illegal market with high rewards for the risks he was taking, he would not have created this market if it was legitimate (as the rewards would be lower), in fact he had a vested interest in the market remaining illegal as others still do.

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: Death by Drugs @BobRocket

          Every year approximately 80,000 people in England and Wales are convicted or cautioned for possession of drugs.

          Those criminal records harm us all.

          Bob,

          Any chance you can elaborate on this part of your post please? The rest of it I understand, and as it happens agree with, but this part.... Well, to be honest, I'm struggling with it.

          RoO act means that vanishingly few of those convictions are declared for more than a few months, or years at the most. It seems the harm they do to their recipients can best be described as transitory, unless they wish to emigrate or work in a regulated profession (children etc).

          I've given it some consideration and I can't see what harm it does a third party (me, in this instance). As far as I can see it does me, and anyone unrelated to those convicted, no harm at all. I'll happily admit I've missed your point, which is why I'm asking for clarification please.

          1. BobRocket

            Re: Death by Drugs @BobRocket

            I've given you an upvote because you posed a difficult and challenging question (and they are the best kind)

            'I've given it some consideration and I can't see what harm it does a third party (me, in this instance). As far as I can see it does me, and anyone unrelated to those convicted, no harm at all. I'll happily admit I've missed your point, which is why I'm asking for clarification please.'

            I'm going to restrict my response to the issues of the conviction of simple possession of a recreational drug

            (and not to any harms caused by the current supply chain as these harms are derived from the proscription of possession).

            There are two sorts of people, a) those who take drugs and b) those who don't. It is a personal choice which category people divide themselves into.

            If a person from either category harms someone else at any time there are existing laws to exact justice

            If a person from category a) possesses or takes a drug it harms no one else.

            It is a discriminatory law based solely on prejudice (salient group membership)

            If this was religion, the act of discrimination itself would be criminal and the victim would have recourse to justice.

            A subset of category a) have convictions because of their personal choice and so have reduced equality of opportunity (eg. can't stand for election as a Police and Crime Commissioner, spent conviction or not).

            Unfair discrimination is a corrupting influence and harms everyone, it is deemed bad in society for very good reason.

            This is interesting

            http://www.academia.edu/9108156/What_is_so_Bad_about_Discrimination

            1. LucreLout Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Death by Drugs @BobRocket

              Thanks for taking the time to reply Bob. It's a very interesting view which I certainly don't disagree with, and have upvoted.

              1. BobRocket

                Re: Death by Drugs @BobRocket - @LucreLout

                In my opinion Ross Ulbricht got everything he deserved, he did not set up the Silk Road to reduce unfair discrimination but purely to profit from it.

                From the Wired article, 'Ross decided to cultivate his own psilocybin mushrooms as a starter product'.

                He did not hold true to the libertarian ideal of 'economic freedom' because he was happy to use 'the state’s monopoly on violence' to enable a high profit margin, he was supporting and practising crony capitalism for his own selfish ends.

                He certainly exhibits psycopathic/NPD tendencies as evidenced by his treatment of his girlfriend, he was devastated when she left due to his inabilty to give her the freedom to choose her own lifestyle and was elated when she returned (which reinforced his NPD, 'she was wrong to leave in the first place') but he did not change his behaviour to accomodate her so she left again (reinforcing his paranoid belief that others are untrustworthy and are out to get him).

                He is undoubtedly charming and charismatic but attempts to use these characteristics solely for personal gain. (the carefully worded letter to the judge)

                I believe him to be a very dangerous individual indeed and I commend the judge for not being taken in by him.

  17. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Not a Victim, He's a Volunteer

    Even before Snowden I was always pretty sure that doing illegal stuff on the Internet was not an entirely good idea.

    More to the point, operating a large, lucrative, and very public web site selling drugs is pretty much guaranteed to bring the authorities knocking.

    By the time that Silk Road started being mentioned in the main stream media it was 99.99% inevitable that whoever was behind it would get shut down, arrested, and dropped in jail for a very long time.

    If DPR didn't see that coming he was an idiot.

    If he did see it coming, and didn't head for some no-extraditable country he's still an idiot.

    1. Mark 65

      Re: Not a Victim, He's a Volunteer

      I believe he thought he was smart enough to not get caught and his complacency was his undoing. If you get away with something like that for several years I'd imagine you start to think quite highly of yourself.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not a Victim, He's a Volunteer

        "I believe he thought he was smart enough to not get caught and his complacency was his undoing"

        It's one of the commonest characteristics of psychopaths that they overestimate their intelligence and underestimate that of other people. That, and the way he seems to be trying to say what he imagines will have a good effect on the judge and jury while coming over as if a PR person has worked it out for him, means that it at least sounds as if he might be a psychopath.

        What do we do with non-violent psychopaths? They can't help their behaviour, they can't be treated. At one end of the scale there's "kill them all", at the other there's "keep them under observation in regulated communities and allow them to apply their talents legally". The present prison system is a very poor substitute.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Not a Victim, He's a Volunteer

          "The present prison system is a very poor substitute."

          But it may be the only option for true psychopaths. Attempting to "keep them under observation in regulated communities and allow them to apply their talents legally" will inevitably result in one of them gaming the system. That's how psychopaths work and why they're beyond treatment: they simply can't see beyond themselves and see everyone else as enemies: either opposition or prey. You basically can't reform someone locked into full Don't Trust Anyone mode.

  18. Kaltern

    This is a very odd comments page.

    He designed, run, and profited from a website specifically for selling illegal drugs. He didn't just do it for fun, he certainly didn't do it for free - he made money from the sale of drugs - not just the odd spliff either.

    It doesn't matter how you justify it - in fact it doesn't matter of he run it via TOR, or via a small shed behind Tesco's - the fact is, he did it, and he did it willingly, as a business, and in full knowledge of his actions.

    From my limited understanding, he was a prominent figure in the drug world. He most likely enjoyed the notoriety, and power that came with his standing in the underworld. He is just as much to blame as any other cartel leader, in that he supplied and profited from the sale of illegal substances, in such a way that it was way above what would possibly have been classed as a small operation.

    The fact it was run via TOR means he was deliberately using means to hide his tracks and to remain anonymous from those authorities that would seek to punish him. His ultimate motives and possible remorse or guilt are utterly irrelevant. The negative impact he had on people's lives, either directly due to the purchase of drugs, or the immediate family (which WILL have been affected in many cases), is bad enough to probably warrant a small stint in jail.

    The fact this happened on a daily basis, to many, many customers, is abhorrent to more people than not, and is entirely unjustifiable on here, or any mainstream news forum.

    Oh, and the fact I've never taken any illegal drugs, ever, nor the fact many of you here do, it 100% irrelevant to the outcome of this story. It's illegal, it has been for a very long time, and until it isn't, no matter how must you lot try to justify it away, you are totally wrong.

    1. P_0

      Thank you. I was beginning to think the world had gone mad! It's not just Reg's comments. All over the web there seem to be a lot of people defending Ulbricht's actions, even though he was caught red handed, his lawyer came up with an awful defense, he made profit off illegal sales, he kept a detailed journal that the FBI used to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was DPR and he was involved in a massive illegal drug sales operation. And let's not forget that he also tried to hire professional hitmen (no he wasn't found guilty of this... yet. But he obviously will be, since he was literally caught red handed.)

      The arguments defending him usually fall into 2 categories:

      1. Criminalizing drug use is unfair and immoral, therefore Ulbricht was a good guy.

      2. He just made a website, it's not his fault if people happen to sell drugs there. He didn't sell anything directly. (Also known as the Mafia Don defense).

      At the end of the day, both arguments are pretty weak. I feel sorry for his mother, who has latched on to the "out there" libertarian movement to gain support for her son. And to be honest, I think a Life sentence is too harsh for Ulbricht, but let's not pretend he was a good guy.

    2. DocJames

      @ Kaltern

      Agree with you until your final para. Which is just weird; why do you think legality and morality are the same? This is what most of the commentards are trying to say: illegal drugs are worse for morality than the same drugs would if legal. (I appreciate many people on internet fora make such errors; it's just odd following your nice logic above.)

      I agree he was doing illegal things with full knowledge (not that lack of knowledge should protect you) and for his own profit. He is guilty (albeit with some skepticism around his defence being adequate) and should be sentenced. The other debate is around whether 2 life sentences without parole are appropriate. I'd suggest not; I very much doubt that 1) anyone who would do this will be less deterred by 20 years without parole and 2) he will be able to still harm society after 20 years in prison. The only other reason for keeping him in jail after this is "punishment" and I'd think 20 years is easily enough. YVMV.

      Good article on wired about him if you want to know more. Definitely written from the "he should go down" viewpoint, but good background.

      1. GH1618

        Re: @ Kaltern

        Kaltern, DocJames did equate legality and morality. That's a straw man, but I suppose not an intentional one. Read it again more carefully.

        1. GH1618

          Re: @ Kaltern

          That should be "did not," of course. I should preview my own posts more carefully.

  19. raving angry loony

    Options....

    If he'd defrauded billions from the American public, he wouldn't have even been charged. If he'd killed thousands based on outright lies and misleading an entire government, he wouldn't have even been charged. But he didn't, so he gets life in prison. This from the same "justice" system that sentences someone who steals millions to 60 days, but someone who steal $100 to 20 years.

    In other words, the USA doesn't have a "justice" system any more, if it ever did. It has a revenge system where the more you piss of the people in charge (or the darker your skin) the more time you serve. Periods. Has nothing to do with justice. Or even "law".

    1. DocJames
      Coat

      Re: Options....

      the more you piss of the people in charge (or the darker your skin) the more time you serve

      If your skin's dark enough in the states, you just get executed.

      Mine's not bulletproof: I'm white and middle class.

    2. Phuq Witt
      Pirate

      Re: Options....

      @raving angry loony

      And if he'd been a UK citizen and:

      Defrauded billions from the British public...

      Killed thousands based on outright lies...

      Silk Road had exported hi-tech weaponry around the globe...

      He'd have ended up supping tea with the queen at Buckingham Palace followed by a life peerage seat in the House of Lords.

      If you're going to dip your hand in the till, or peddle misery –at least do it on a grand scale and make sure and give your "friends in high places" snout room at the trough. As we've just seen, they do tend to get a bit 'peeved' if you don't include them.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > For those n00bs wanting drugs to be legitimised so they can be taxed and therefore crime will go down. Haver you heard of tobacco and alcohol?

    Yes both, and yet despite being legal they don't destroy society all that badly.

    > Both get taxed to the hilt because they make you dependant on them and therefore will pay whatever is asked because you need them.

    Not sure the data backs this up - tobacco usage is dropping, and alcohol is also dropping off in younger end age groups (in the UK at least).

    > Also the 'medical benefits' argument is equally flawed.

    Evidence? Lots of scientific reports say otherwise, and for the most part "dying happy quickly" is a lot more useful than a "living" a life prolonged by really agressive treatments such as chemo and radiotherapy. Seen both my parents go through it and for the last few years of life, it was just an endless sequence of feeling shit because of chemo, feeling shit because of radiotherapy, feeling OK for a month, then back around again. Would palliative care have been a better option?

    > It's a death sentence.

    We all die. The real question is not how you die, but if you enjoy life getting there. Modern western society seems to want to prolong life as much as possible by taking all of the fun out of it. Alcohol - bad. Red meat - bad. Watching telly - bad. Flying too much - bad. Sun - bad. Too little sun - bad. FFS western society, I don't want to live forever in a bland universe where everything is the same every day because it is "safe".

  21. johnnymotel

    Did he plea guilty or not guilty? Did the DoJ offer him a deal to avoid a trial?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Pled not guilty then was convicted by jury. So no, crying crocodile tears now didn't help him and in fact hurt him because he now looks like the kid with his hand in the cookie jar trying to curry sympathy. If he really were sorry, he would've pled guilty from the start.

    2. GH1618

      He pleaded "not guilty." I don't think the prosecution was interested in a plea deal, because they had a computer full of incriminating evidence and motivation to make an example of him.

  22. westlake

    Enough rope.

    I keep thinking of Hans Reiser --- and every other geek who has gone into court thinking he held the winning hand.

    The sympathy card to be played at the last when all else failed.

    Ars Technica posted a clear summary of the judge's sentence of Ulbricht.

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/05/ulbricht-at-sentencing-i-respect-the-law-and-its-authority/

    What the judge saw in his logs and journals was a narcissistic sociopath who conceived and managed a criminal enterprise on a global scale.

    "It was your opus. You wanted it to be your legacy --- and it is."

    As for Fernando Caudevilla, or "Doctor X," the Spanish doctor hired by Ulbricht to give advice to users, the judge read his messages, and found them "breathtakingly irresponsible."

  23. JJKing Silver badge
    Flame

    Ok, the guy is a douchebag but nobody forced those idiots to buy drugs from the Silk Road. Those that did and died, well it does result in making the gene pool a little better off in the long run. I fail to see how he can get a life sentence without parole for basically selling drugs. Again I don't think he is a particularly good guy but the United States of Farkup can lose thousands of weapons being used in a supposed ATF sting and nobody goes to jail. If that number of weapons were sold on the Silk Road they would be after him for terrorist activity. The biggest terrorist organisation after the isis dickwads is the US injustice system.

    Remember this is the same "justice" system that "murdered" Aaron Swartz and the murderer suffered no repercussions. The same "justice" system that told the jury that Kevin Mitnick could launch nuclear weapons from a laptop that was sitting on the Persecutors desk and it had NO wireless and NO Ethernet cable plugged in. The same "justice" system that persecuted AND convicted Rubin "Hurricane" Carter for something he never done.

    Kim Dotcom may also be a complete twat but look at the lies being told to try and get him to some US black hole for who knows how long.

    These so called Pubic Persecutors just want to make a name for themselves so they can then run for public office and jump on the Govt gravy train. To quote the great Bob Dylan, "justice is just a game".

    1. GH1618

      If you "fail to see how he can get a life sentence" you just aren't trying very hard. You write that he was "basically selling drugs" as if he were just your common neighborhood peddler. Read the indictment. Read the accounts of the trial. Read the judge's sentencing remarks. He was a big cheese. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      nobody forced those idiots to buy drugs from the Silk Road. Those that did and died, well it does result in making the gene pool a little better off in the long run.

      Yes, I'm sure that is a massive comfort for their bereaved parents and siblings.

  24. GH1618

    Where did he go wrong?

    What I find hard to understand is that Ulbricht does not seem like a misfit with some perceived reason to be angry at society. He was smart, academically. He has a B.S. in Physics and an M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering. Anyone with a graduate engineering degree should be well equipped to succeed in the normal way without turning to crime, which most people of similar intelligence would know is a bad bet, apart from the morality of it.

    It seems to me that his mind was poisoned by libertarian ideals. Most people who get into this, or into any other extreme philosophical system, recognize that society places limits on where they can go with it, and accept those limits even if they don't like them. Ulbricht, instead, followed his libertarian ideals to their {il}logical and self-destructive conclusion. What a waste.

    He should have read more of Locke, Mill, and Rousseau and less present day libertarian blather.

  25. Laura Kerr

    @GH1618, @Mark 85

    "The evidence that he was willing to resort to murder to protect his criminal enterprise was a strong aggravating factor."

    Hardly. He hasn't been convicted of murder, so how can that be evidence?. He may be guilty of murder, he may not, but that trial has not yet taken place. Unless the US court system has abandoned the principle of innocent unless proven guilty - something that genuinely would not surprise me - allowing outstanding charges to be presented for sentencing is nothing more than willingly accepting the influence of a smear campaign and pandering to mob rule.

    "If you don't believe the judge should weigh aggravating and mitigating factors"

    Oh come on, of course they should. That's the whole point of having a judge in the first place.

    "The trial for the murders is coming up. Those would be state charges, not federal. Here in the states there crimes at various judicial levels and thus, as in this gentleman's case, multiple trials within the appropriate jurisdiction"

    Indeed. But he hasn't been tried for the murders yet, so why on earth are unproven allegations allowed to be submitted for sentencing? The state/federal thing doesn't come into it - if there is indeed a loophole or procedure that allows such things to be done, the US justice system is fundamentally flawed.

    Let's take a hypothetical scenario. Imagine, for a moment, you are competing for a promotion at work with a pretty ruthless individual. The promotion will make a huge difference to you - more money, more responsibility, a better future for your family. There's a lot riding on it.

    The job goes to the other guy, but you discover he's cheated his way in. But you don't think there's anything you can do about it. Raging inside at the injustice of it all, you go out and get drunk. You drive home pissed, attract the attention of the plod and lose it. You lead them on the mother of all car chases - even Mad Max has to pull over and hide - and eventually you're brought to a halt after causing mucho fear and damage. Fortunately, no-one's been injured or killed.

    You go to trial. Because of your previous good character, you plead guilty, you show genuine remorse and make it clear to the court that you know you screwed up big time. You understand you deserve what's coming. For that, you might get a 24-month ban and six months inside. You might even be lucky and get that suspended.

    Clear so far? Good. Because here's the nasty bit.

    Your oppo, who beat you for the promotion, discovers that you know he cheated, and he'll be out on his ear if you do expose him. So he fabricates some evidence to support more serious charges. Before your trial, he informs the police, who in turn get the OK from the DPP to prosecute.

    Yes, it does sound like a bad movie script. But here's the punchline:

    Your original charges were driving with excess alcohol, speeding, dangerous driving, failing to stop and criminal damage. That's bad enough, but you've been tried and convicted for those, and you expect to be punished appropriately.

    So how would you react when your oppo's list of allegations, which might include embezzlement, attempted murder, rape, terrorism, drug dealing, slave trafficking or whatnot were read out in court, and the judge then handed out a whole-life tariff? Do you think that's acceptable? Because I bloody don't.

    1. GH1618

      Re: @GH1618, @Mark 85

      Laura, you don't seem to know the meaning of "evidence" and the rules that govern it, or understand what constitutes an "aggravating circumstance." Did you even read the judge's remarks? You can learn something about the sentencing procedure by reading it in full, or you can just complain about something you don't understand. Say she was too severe in the sentence, which was the maximum, but her procedure was almost certainly correct. There's a reason she's a judge and you're not.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Laura Kerr

        Re: @GH1618, @Mark 85

        I'm very well aware of what does and doesn't constitute evidence, and what aggravating and mitigating circumstances are. My original comment was a reply to Sorry that handle is already taken, who asserted that "(he wasn't tried for this [the murders] but it was submitted for use at the sentencing hearing)"

        I did read the judge's remarks - or at least, those that I could find reported on the web. I don't have a problem with Ulbricht being thrown in the slammer for the rest of his natural. Not at all. The US justice system is harsh, spiteful and vindictive, but he lived in America and ought to have known the risk he was taking.

        What I do have is a problem with is a so-called justice system that allows unproven allegations to be presented for use during sentencing. Judge Forrest should have told the attorney who tried that to STFU and concentrate on the facts of the present case.

        Instead, as stated in the Wall Street Journal:

        The government also accused Mr. Ulbricht of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for the murders of at least five people who threatened his criminal enterprise. Although there is no evidence the murders were actually carried out, Judge Forrest said she took them into consideration for the sentencing.

        So either my point still stands or the WSJ's got it wrong.

  26. JJKing Silver badge

    "Yes, I'm sure that is a massive comfort for their bereaved parents and siblings."

    Maybe the drug taking idiots should have thought of that BEFORE their indulging in some cheap thrills for their own perverse pleasure. It's not like someone held a gun to their heads and forced them to buy and inject/snort or whatever the chemical thrill.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Ever thought some people CAN'T think BUT still have loving relatives? These relatives have a hard enough time trying to make him/her come around, especially if things like an intervention fizzle or even backfire. And note that if you tell them anything that portrays them in anything but a sympathetic light, you'll make YOURSELF into their enemy.

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