In a court order last Sept. 29, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest announced that Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht has withdrawn his claims to the Bitcoins, which means that the proceeds from its sale will be forfeited to the U.S. government.
If you recall, the U.S. Marshals Service sold more than 144,000 Bitcoins it seized from several cases involving the dark web commerce market in a series of auctions. The first auction, held in 2014, the USMS sold nearly 30,000 Bitcoins to Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper. The following year, the government emerged with $14.6 million in profit after selling 44,000 Bitcoins to 11 bidders.
The forfeited $48 million will be credited “in partial satisfaction of the Money Judgment” against Ulbricht, who was ordered to forfeit around $183 million.
“The forfeiture of the Defendant Funds shall constitute full and complete satisfaction of the United States’ claims in this Action against Ulbricht, and for any and all other civil claims that could have been brought against Ulbricht in relation to the facts alleged in the Complaint,” according to the court order.
Ulbricht ran the website under the name Dread Pirate Roberts from 2011 until 2013, when he was caught red-handed by a law enforcement sting in a San Francisco coffee shop. He was found guilty by the Manhattan jury on seven charges, including drug trafficking, money laundering and a whole host of other cyber crimes. He faces a lifetime behind bars without possibility of parole when sentencing was handed out in May 2015, which his lawyers called “unconscionable.”
In 2016, Ulbricht and his lawyers appealed for a new trial that will focus on the government’s “calculated failure” to disclose the full extent of its federal agents’ misconduct until after the trial ended. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a 139-page decision in May rejecting Ulbricht’s claims of unfair trial and overly harsh sentence.
The Justice Department revealed more than a year ago that two federal agents, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration and Secret Service, had stolen thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin from Silk Road. The agents, Carl Mark Force IV and Shaun Bridges, are serving their sentences in prison after pleading guilty to the charges.
Bridges has also pleaded guilty to pocketing more of the seized digital currency after leaving the Secret Service. He faces sentencing in November, when he can expect to receive a maximum of 10 years in prison beyond the sentence he is already serving as well as a $250,000 fine.