Judges question sentence for drug-selling website’s founder
A Manhattan federal appeals panel Thursday questioned whether the life prison term given to the San Francisco founder of the drug-selling website Silk Road was too harsh.
Hearing oral arguments on the conviction and sentencing of Ross Ulbricht, at least two members of a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seemed concerned that the sentencing judge in May 2015 may have relied too much on the government’s characterization of at least six deaths from drugs bought on the underground website.
Judge Jon O. Newman said he found it unusual for a man in his early 30s with no criminal record who was not dealing drugs himself to receive a life sentence.
“Isn’t that quite a leap to have that kind of sentence imposed?” he asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Eun Young Choi.
“Your honor, I don’t think that it is,” she answered, explaining the enormous reach of the unprecedented onestop online shopping mall where the supply of drugs was limitless, enabling nearly 4,000 drug dealers to expand their markets from the sidewalk to cyberspace.
The government says drugs were sold for nearly three years to more than 100,000 buyers in markets stretching from Argentina to Australia, from the United States to Ukraine.