Ross William Ulbricht, A.K.A. Dread Pirate Roberts, is trying to get his sentence vacated once again. On Thursday, October 10, 2019, Ulbricht filed Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence with the New York court.
Jury convicted Ulbricht of various violations of U.S. laws by founding and operating online drug trafficking service “Silk road”
In his Motion, Ulbricht mentions three grounds.
According to Ground One, Ulbricht’s counsel’s lack of adversarial testing of the Government’s case violated Ulbricht’s Sixth Amendment rights.
Ulbricht says his trial counsel conceded Ulbricht’s guilt with respect to the most consequential offenses in the indictment. Trial counsel conceded in his Opening Statement that Ulbricht had created and ran the Silk Road website for a period of time. Stipulations were entered into where counsel agreed that numerous Silk Road vendors sold and delivered illicit controlled substances to a government agent. These concessions and stipulations relieved the government of its burden of proof on the charges against Ulbricht.
In the end, ulbricht claims that the result was a proceeding where trial counsel failed to subject the prosecution’s case to any reasonable adequate adversarial testing in violation of the Sixth Amendment.
According to Ground Two, Counsel provided insufficient plea advice to Ulbricht. But for counsel’s insufficient advice there is a reasonable probability that Ulbricht would have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to spend less time locked up.
Ulbricht explains that the Government offered him a pre-indictment plea deal with required him to plead guilty to and be subject to a minimum punishment of 10 years and up to life imprisonment. Ulbricht’s attorneys advised him to refuse the deal and proceed to trial. Ulbricht was also advised that by going to trial instead of pleading guilty he was risking nothing: even if he went to trial and lost it, he was counseled that he would be in no worse position at sentencing because the Guideline range would call for a life sentence anyways. Ulbricht rejected the Government’s plea offer based on the advice of his advocates.
Ulbricht says he would have pleaded guilty and accepted the plea offer if his attorneys had properly explained to him the subjects that the Government needed to prove. Alternatively, Ulbricht would have pleaded guilty “open” to the indictment or the superseding indictment without a plea agreement if his attorneys had explained to him that the Government’s evidence of guilt were enormous and he did not have a legally viable trial defense.
According to Ground Three, the advisor was ineffective in violation of the 6th Amendment by admiting all the necessary elements of the offense, pleading Ulbricht guilty with no benefit at all