NEW YORK — Murder-for-hire allegations are central to a New York trial starting this week for a San Francisco man charged with running an online black market where drugs were sold as easily as books and electronics.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest overruled defense objections in recent weeks as she concluded prosecutors could introduce evidence about six murder plots into Ross William Ulbricht's trial. Prospective jurors have filled out questionnaires and formal jury selection starts Tuesday when potential jurors will be questioned orally.
Prosecutors say Ulbricht ran an underground website known as Silk Road, where hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, heroin and other drugs were sold to over 100,000 customers. Ulbricht has pleaded not guilty and is disputing that he operated online under a “Dread Pirate Roberts” alias, an apparent reference to a swashbuckling character in the 1987 comedy “The Princess Bride.”
The government maintains that Ulbricht attempted to protect his operation by asking others to kill those who posed a threat to his business.