Judge Shows No Mercy to Creator of Underground Site
Ross Ulbricht of Silk Road gets life sentence
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2015 5:36 PM CDT
A courtroom sketch of Ross Ulbricht.   (Elizabeth Williams)

(Newser) – If the judge were feeling lenient, she could have given Ross Ulbricht a 20-year sentence. Instead, she delivered a life term to the 31-year-old founder of Silk Road, a now-shuttered underground website that allowed people to buy drugs anonymously with Bitcoins. "It was a carefully planned life's work," US District Judge Katherine Forrest told the San Francisco man. "It was your opus. You are no better a person than any other drug dealer." Forrest also ordered Ulbricht, who went by online name Dread Pirate Roberts, to forfeit the staggering sum of $183 million, and made clear she wanted to send a message to any successors that they'd face "very serious consequences," reports AP.

Ulbricht had made a "tearful" plea for leniency, reports CNNMoney. "I wish I could go back and convince myself to take a different path," he said. "I've ruined my life." But Forrest took into account prosecutors' assertions that at least five people died of drug overdoses because of his website. In court today, the parent of one said, “I strongly believe that my son would be here today if Ross Ulbricht had not created Silk Road." The judge also cited "unambiguous" evidence that Ulbricht arranged the murders of rivals, though the accusations were not formal charges in this case, reports Wired. In fact, "five out of six of the murder-for-hires appear to have been part of a lucrative scam targeting Ulbricht, with no actual victims," says Wired.