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Drug Lord Spin Control

Family of alleged Silk Road kingpin Ross Ulbricht mounts PR campaign to restore his image

Ross Ulbricht of Silk Road
Ross Ulbricht is accused of running Silk Road. His family has created a website to help raise defense funds for his trial.  Free Ross/Facebook
Ross Ulbricht of Silk Road
Prosecutors allege that Ulbricht was stockpiling false identities at the time of his arrest.  Photo from Wired.com

After Ross Ulbricht’s arrest in October for being the alleged mastermind of Silk Road — a website devoted to purchasing and selling high-grade illegal drugs — it seemed as though the case was relatively open and shut. There were allegations of narcotics trafficking, money laundering and computer hacking.

But a new site put up by Ulbricht’s friends and family is trying to show the world a different side of the 29-year-old — one in which he is a caring family member, former Eagle Scout and philanthropist devoted to helping children.

 Freeross.org hopes Ulbricht’s case will set precedent in Internet freedom, financial privacy and the role of government.

The website, freeross.org, is designed to help raise funds for Ulbricht’s bail and defense fund. It also says that several family members and friends have put their houses up for sale to help raise the money needed to fight the charges.

While the plea to make bail didn’t work — U.S. District Judge Kevin N. Fox denied the request this week — there is still the matter of the charges at hand.

On the site, Ulbricht is described as “an honorable, caring person who is loved and admired by countless friends and, of course, his family.”

It also says that the case will serve as precedent for “such issues as individual and Internet freedom; personal and financial privacy; and the role of government in our lives.”

In the section “Who is Ross Ulbricht? (Really),” the site mentions that when he owned the bookstore Good Wagon Books in Austin, he donated 10 percent of his gross earnings to Explore Austin, a program that mentors inner-city youth, as well as his contributions to Well Aware, a project to bring drinkable water to families in Kenya.

The evidence against Ulbricht has grown since his arrest, however. Federal prosecutors most recently filed paperwork accusing the UT Dallas graduate of ordering six murders for $730,000, and it was reported that he was logged into Silk Road as Dread Pirate Roberts — the name of the site’s runner — when the police came to arrest him.

Feds also maintain that he was collecting fake identification and researching how to become a citizen of a Caribbean country. 

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