Ross William Ulbricht was swiftly convicted today of creating and operating an underground website that prosecutors said enabled drug dealers around the world to reach customers they would never find on the street. The jury's verdict in federal court in Manhattan came after little more than three hours of deliberations. The government said drug dealing made up nearly all of Silk Road's sales during its nearly three years in business, which ended with Ulbricht's October 2013 arrest. During the trial, prosecutors discounted defense claims that Ulbricht was framed by others and had quit Silk Road soon after creating it. Assistant US Attorney Serrin Turner painted Ulbricht as willing to do anything to protect the site. He cited emails that he said showed Ulbricht was willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to kill as many as five people he thought were threats to his operation.
Prosecutors said Ulbricht enabled more than 1 million drug deals on Silk Road and earned about $18 million in bitcoins. Ulbricht had several supporters among the spectators. When the verdict was announced, his father dropped his head in his hands. Later, a male spectator shouted out, "Ross is a hero!" Another called out to him: "It's not over Ross. We love you." As Ulbricht was led out of court, he waved toward the spectator section. Ulbricht faced no murder charges in New York, but still awaits trial in Baltimore in a murder-to-hire plot. His sentencing in New York is scheduled for May 15. He was convicted of seven drug and conspiracy counts, and some of the charges carry a maximum of life in prison. Click for more on Ulbricht, who was the subject of a January 2014 New Yorker article. (Read more Ross William Ulbricht stories.)