Attorney denies California man ran drug website
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco man denies charges that he operated an encrypted website where users could anonymously shop for drugs such as heroin and LSD, his attorney said on Friday.
“We deny all charges. That’s the end of the discussion,” said federal public defender Brandon LeBlanc, who is representing defendant Ross Ulbricht.
The denial came after Ulbricht, looking calm, appeared in federal court in shackles and red prison clothes for a bail hearing. LeBlanc asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero to postpone the hearing, saying the case was complex.
Spero granted the request and rescheduled the hearing for Oct. 9.
Ulbricht has been charged in New York with narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering in connection with the website known as Silk Road, which is believed to have collected more than $1 billion in revenue.
He is also charged in Maryland with arranging to pay someone to kill a witness.
FBI agents arrested the 29-year-old San Francisco resident — allegedly known online as Dread Pirate Roberts — on Tuesday in the science fiction section of a small branch of the San Francisco public library, where he was chatting online.
The arrest came after a federal investigation that began in 2011. Agents said they determined Ulbricht was “altoid,” someone who was posting information about Silk Road on other drug-related websites under federal surveillance.
Since then, Ulbricht’s online behavior has been tracked, and agents slowly gathered evidence that allegedly connected him to Silk Road.
If convicted, Ulbricht could be sentenced to life in prison.