A federal judge on Thursday denied a petition to release alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht from jail before his trial, concluding that the bail proposal his defense team presented was not strong enough to dispel worries that the San Francisco man would try to flee or take violent action.
Following the judge’s ruling, disappointed sighs were heard from a few members of 29-year-old Ulbricht’s family who attended the hearing.
Ulbricht’s lawyer had proposed a bail package worth $1 million that restricted the defendant’s movements and cut off his access to the Internet. But a Manhattan federal prosecutor argued there was reason to believe Ulbricht would try to leave the country if released, and that his alleged participation in six murder-for-hire plots rendered him too dangerous to remain outside of jail.
Ulbricht was arrested in San Francisco on Oct. 1 and charged in federal court in Manhattan with counts relating to drug trafficking, money laundering and computer hacking, all stemming from his alleged involvement in the anonymous Internet marketplace Silk Road, which sold drugs and criminal services in exchange for the digital currency Bitcoin. After Ulbricht’s arrest, the government shut down the website. Ulbricht is also facing charges in federal court in Maryland relating to a murder-for-hire plot.
At Thursday’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Serrin Turner told Magistrate Judge Kevin Fox that Ulbricht had tried to have a total of six people killed, dealing with at least two hit men, one of whom was an undercover agent. Turner also said federal agents analyzing a laptop seized from Ulbricht at the time of his arrest had found a diary he kept detailing his creation of the website.
Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel countered that the government’s accusations were not yet proven, and that Ulbricht had a strong network of supportive friends and family members willing to take care of him and attest to his good character. He said the government had not offered any evidence that Ulbricht had committed violence or sold drugs himself.