Ross Ulbricht, the creator of illegal drug dealing website Silk Road, has been sentenced to life in prison.
He was found guilty in February of narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, money laundering, conspiracy to traffic fraudulent IDs and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise.
The 31-year-old created SilkRoad as a social experiment which gave internet users a place to anonymously buy and sell anything, legal or illegal. The site used the anonymous bitcoin cryptocurrency and earned Ulbricht millions of dollars in sales commission.
Lyn Ulbricht, Ross's mother, said the family plans to appeal the judge's decision.
'Deeply troubling, terribly misguiding and very dangerous'
Judge Katherine Forrest said: "The stated purpose [of Silk Road] was to be beyond the law. In the world you created over time, democracy didn't exist. You were captain of the ship, the dread Pirate Roberts. You made your own laws....Silk Road's birth and presence asserted that its...creator was better than the laws of this country. This is deeply troubling, terribly misguided, and very dangerous."
Ulbricht said in court: ""I've changed. I'm not the man I was when I created Silk Road. I'm a little wiser. A little more mature and much more humble...I wanted to empower people to make choices in their lives...to have privacy and anonymity."
Ulbricht told the judge: "I'm not a sociopathic person trying to express some inner badness."
He was also ordered to pay a restitution of $183 million, which the prosecution estimated to be the total value of drugs and counterfeit ID sold by Silk Road. Revenue earned from the sale of bitcoins seized during the shuttering of Silk Road and its cryptocurrency wallets will be applied to this massive debt.
Speaking to the press afterwards, Ulbricht's defence lawyer Joshua Dratel said the sentence was "unreasonable, unjust, unfair and based on improper consideration with no basis in fact or law...I'm disappointed tremendously."
Although never charged, Ulbricht is also alleged to have arranged and paid for multiple murders during his time as Silk Road's owner, known as the Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR). There is no evidence that these took place, but conversation logs shown in court document DPR's hiring of hitmen to deal with Silk Road users who crossed him.
IN relation to those allegations, the judge said: "I find there is ample and unambiguous evidence that [Ulbricht] commissioned five murders to protect his commercial enterprise."
During its two-year life, Silk Road became one of the largest and most notorious websites on the dark web, an area of the internet hidden from search engines like Google and only viewable through the Tor browser, which anonymises users to hide their actions from the police and government agencies.
'You wanted it to be your legacy. And it was'
In a message to anyone considering building a new Silk Road, Judge Forrest said: "For those considering stepping into your shoes...they need to understand without equivocation that there will be severe consequences."
The judge ended her remarks by tell Ulbricht that Silk Road was "a carefully planned life's work. It was your opus...You wanted it to be your legacy. And it is."