Sep 18 · 3 min read

This is the story of how a non-violent, first-time offender was sentenced to two life sentences after being branded as a “Digital Kingpin” by the federal government. Coinvention and BountyBase recently spoke with Ross’ mother, Lyn Ulbricht, about the petition and clemency for her son’s case.

Why was Ross Ulbricht sentenced?

Former Eagle Scout Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus an additional forty years for his role in the Silk Road, a marketplace used to make purchases on the internet using only Bitcoin. While some chose to use the website to buy and sell illegal drugs and other contraband, others sold goods that were fully legal. Ross did not specifically build the Silk Road as a dark web drug trafficking site. Instead, he built a marketplace that valued consumer freedom and privacy and promoted the use of Bitcoin, which was mostly unheard of at the time.

Then he was charged as a kingpin.

The kingpin charge used against Ulbricht- called the Kingpin Statute that falls under the Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CEE) law- has been historically used in prosecuting mafia dons and drug cartel leaders. Others who have been charged under this statute include Larry Hoover (a leader of the Chicago-based Gangster Disciples, was convicted of murder) and the leaders of the Tijuana Cartel (convicted of numerous murders and drug trafficking charges).

This heinous charge, which carries its own life sentence, is meant for the highest level of violent criminals. Ulbricht is one of the few people who were charged with the kingpin statute under the CCE who wasn’t convicted of murder. Additionally, his drug charges were conspiracy charges, not charges that he actually sold drugs himself.

Click the pen to sign Ross’ petition: 🖊️👈

Photo by Aditya Joshi on Unsplash

Corruption in the Case

After the verdict, Ulbricht’s attorneys appealed, citing widespread abuse within the case. This abuse was not unfounded. Two of the investigating federal agents were later convicted of corruption (one agent having stolen $359,000 worth of Bitcoin), with a third rogue cop later suspected.

Ross and his legal team have been trying to gain justice for Ross since the verdict was reached in 2015.

Unjust Sentence for First-Time, Non-Violent Offender

Ross’ mother, Lyn Ulbricht, spoke with us in an exclusive interview about how the case is contrary to the American value system.

“Commuting Ross’ brutal double life sentence is not only just, but it would help reverse the terrible precedent of excessive sentencing in the U.S. Condemning a peaceful, first-time offender to a walking death sentence is an abuse of power and counter to our American values of mercy and redemption,” Lyn Ulbricht told us.

What can you do to help Ross?

“Behind Satoshi, Ross might be the single-most influential person in Bitcoin,” Coinvention’s founder Alex Skaggs said.

In an effort for Ross to be granted clemency, Lyn Ulbricht started an organization called Free Ross, as well as a petition that currently has over 207,000 signatures.

You can sign the petition here:


Co.Invent the Block.


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Co.Invent the Block.

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