After being found guilty of seven criminal counts, including drug trafficking and money laundering, Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind the illegal online marketplace known as Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison by Judge Katherine Forrest.
With all of the counts levied against him, Ulbricht was facing 20 years at a minimum. Prosecutors, though, were hoping for a much longer sentence, writing that they wanted a “lengthy sentence, one substantially above the mandatory minimum” as to make a harsh example out of Ulbricht. They also claim that Ulbricht hasn’t “acknowledged full responsibility or shown true remorse for his actions.”
The life sentence comes sentence in the wake of Ulbricht penning a heartfelt letter to Judge Forrest where he pleaded with the court for leniency.
“I’ve had my youth, ” Ulbricht wrote, “and I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age.”
Before today’s sentencing, Ulbricht once more asked for mercy, asking Judge Forrest to please leave him a “light at the end of the tunnel.” All told, Ulbricht reportedly spoke for 20 minutes pleading his case.
In addition to running Silk Road, Ulbricht was also accused of hiring a hitman (who turned out to be an FBI agent) to kill an employee he believed was stealing money from him.
While operational, Silk Road was responsible for over 1.5 million transactions and $1.2 billion worth of business. Though no weapons were allowed on Silk Road, the site trafficked heavily in all other types of contraband, from any type of drug imaginable to counterfeit passports and everything in between.