Prosecutors are pushing for Silk Road founder Ross William Ulbricht to serve a sentence in excess of 20 years in prison.
Ulbricht has been convicted of seven drug and conspiracy charges by a Manhattan jury, which carries a minimum sentence of 20 years.
However, the defence team is arguing that Ulbricht should be released sooner so that he can demonstrate that is a reformed man. He claims that his decision to start the online black market was a “terrible mistake” and that a life sentence would leave him without hope.
“Please leave a small light at the end of the tunnel, an excuse to stay healthy, an excuse to dream of better days ahead, and a chance to redeem myself in the free world before I meet my maker,” he wrote in a letter to the US District Judge Katherine Forrest.
Silk Road was launched in 2011 as an anonymous marketplace, only accessible using the Tor web browser. According to the prosecution, Ulbricht received more than $18 million from the site, primarily from sales commissions on illegal drugs. They also assert that he paid for a number of people to be murdered in order to remove threats to the site. There is however no concrete evidence of any of these deaths.
“The site enabled thousands of drug dealers to expand their markets from the sidewalk to cyberspace, and thereby reach countless customers whom they never could have found on the street. The consequence was to vastly expand access to illegal drugs,” prosecutors said.
As part of the case against Ross William Ulbricht, the court also heard the stories of a 27-year-old Microsoft employee and an Australian teenager, both of whom died as a result of narcotics bought from Silk Road.