Every year, I go to my parents’ old alma mater in central West Virginia. Outside McCuskey Hall, there’s a grove of enormous oak trees, casting shade on the grassy field. In the fall it is absolutely picturesque. Every year my dad tells me and my sister the same story. When he was in college in the late 80s, he would climb one of the oaks and string up a hammock in the branches. He spent most of his time in these trees with his friends, chatting and practicing dove-calls. But sometimes, he would haul his ham radio (amateur radio) into the branches and talk to kids across the campus or call my mother in the other dorm hall. All the while, he feared to break a major law by ordering a pizza.
Ross Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts went to prison for life so you could learn a lesson. Toe the line, stay free. Dare to take firm action against the government, and you’ll end up like him. The alleged operator of the Silk Road, an unregulated dark web retail site that predominantly sold personal amounts of marijuana, received a double life sentence plus 40 years for his actions.
This comes in spite of the fact that none of his crimes were violent, he has no convictions of actually selling illicit substances, and the trial violated his constitutional rights in several important and unfair ways. But on Friday, more direct proof of the unfairness came to light; the owner of Silk Road 2.0, Dread Pirate Roberts 2, received a 5-year sentence for far worse crimes.
With the unexpected death of Gerald Cotten, CEO and founder of Quadriga Fintech Solutions Corp., his widow Jennifer Robertson has found herself in the middle of a complicated legal battle. She is facing off in defense of her husband’s legacy against former Quadriga CX investors and customers. Robertson never thought this was going to be a simple process. She has admitted that she has little to no experience dealing with Bitcoin, let alone running a company. But what came as a surprise for her was the amount of blowback she is receiving.
Cryptocurrency often breeds a great deal of uncertainty. After all, many places still view it as the new kid on the block(chain). Clearly, respect for cryptocurrencies has increased. After all, some governments and companies are going through great lengths to attempt to control it and profit from it. There is still a lot of bias against using these paperless currencies; some still look down at cryptocurrencies with suspicion and distrust. This is especially due to the fact that cryptocurrencies are decentralized and often anonymous. Nevertheless, the adoption and value of those currencies have skyrocketed. But soon, Canadian company Quadriga CX may not find much of either.
Continue reading “Law Firms Rush to Represent Quadriga CX Clients”
By Nate Galt | United States
Ross William Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, has been the subject of controversy. Ulbricht was the head of the notorious dark web drug-trading market known as Silk Road. He became more interested in liberty and economic theory in college, reading the works of prominent libertarians such as Ron Paul and Samuel E. Konkin III. He decided to set up a market which relied on voluntary exchange in 2011. His ultimate goal was a marketplace, or “Agora,” where victimless goods could be bought and sold.
Ulbricht’s new website, Silk Road, soon became the leading dark-net drug market. However, other goods were sold there, such as art, books, tee shirts, and tickets to events. The most commonly sold items were user amounts of cannabis. In just over two years, he had amassed a 28 million dollar net worth through all of the commission he had received. Interestingly, all transactions were done in Bitcoin, a new, unregulated cryptocurrency that had sprung up. For every purchase, “Dread Pirate Roberts,” Ulbricht’s online persona, would receive a certain percentage of the sale. He would attempt to calculate his net worth in several spreadsheets that were used as evidence in federal court.
Several plans were made by the F.B.I. to arrest Ulbricht and to retrieve damning evidence to convict him. On October 1st, 2013, federal agents followed him into a San Francisco public library near his house. After a brief distraction, one of them seized his computer while another agent handcuffed him. All files on the computer were copied to a flash drive.
Later, the case of U.S.A. v. Ulbricht went to court. Federal Judge Katherine B. Forrest wanted to make “an example” out of him in order to send a message to all deep web drug traffickers. She mentioned several murder-for-hire allegations that Ulbricht was accused of. His defense attorney said that these claims were not true and were just meant to sway the jury into convicting him.
In 2018, a Maryland judge dismissed the murder-for-hire allegations against Ulbricht. However, the jury had already associated the case with murder. Some jurors may have thought that Ulbricht had blood on his hands and was a kingpin who would stop at nothing to keep his drug ring operational, comparable with the likes of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and Pablo Escobar. These fictitious accusations may have played a role in the jury’s decision. Judge Forrest did not mention that several F.B.I. agents violated protocol and that there was a debate as to whether Ulbricht’s constitutional rights had been infringed upon.
In federal court in New York City, Judge Forrest sentenced Ross Ulbricht to two life sentences without the possibility of parole plus forty years, the maximum possible penalty. He was a first-time, nonviolent offender. This draconian sentence was imposed on Ulbricht for hosting a site where drugs, primarily cannabis products, were sold.
Criminals whose actions have victims who did not consent to their actions, such as rapists, murderers, and pedophiles, get much lighter sentences. This clear disparity between the two sentences is extremely unjust. Furthermore, victimless crimes should not be considered crimes to begin with. Laws regulating what consenting adults partake in or consume are merely arbitrary dictates and attempts to legislate lawmakers’ versions of morality.
Every transaction on Silk Road had two consenting parties involved. A man who hosted a site with only voluntary transactions should not be punished harder than someone who violently killed or took advantage of another person. All laws to regulate victimless crimes such as drugs, gambling, and prostitution have failed miserably in their attempt to enforce morality. The only moral thing to do in this case would be for the president to pardon Ross Ulbricht for a crime that does not deserve jail time.
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