Breaking News Emails
A San Francisco man who launched an underground website as an economic experiment before abandoning it was fooled into taking the fall when investigators concluded it was used almost solely for drug dealing, a defense lawyer told jurors Tuesday after the government portrayed his client as the mastermind of a worldwide digital drug market. Ross William Ulbricht was "left holding the bag" by operators of the Silk Road website after they were alerted that federal investigators were closing in, defense attorney Joshua Dratel said in his opening statement at Ulbricht's criminal trial. "Ross is not a drug dealer. Ross is not a kingpin. Ross is not involved in a conspiracy," Dratel said. The 30-year-old has pleaded not guilty to charges of narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering. Minutes earlier, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Howard described Ulbricht as all of those things and more, calling him a kingpin who created a website where "anybody anywhere in the world could buy and sell dangerous drugs with a click of a mouse." Howard said it was "as quick and easy as ordinary online shopping." About a dozen protesters stood in front of the courthouse for part of the day with signs and jury nullification fliers in support of Ulbricht.
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--- Associated Press