Alleged Silk Road mastermind's mother warns of government overreach

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

On the heels of fresh charges filed against her son, Lyn Ulbricht, mother of alleged Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht, has cautioned that the outcome of the federal case against her son could have broader legal implications.


In an 11-minute video, which has gained traction on social news site Reddit, Ulbricht states that the federal government "will make bad law" out of the Silk Road case. The video has been upvoted more than 500 times in the Bitcoin subreddit.

Ulbricht says the prosecution has improperly interpreted laws, citing the charge of money laundering conspiracy as a prime example. Because Bitcoin has been defined by the Internal Revenue Service as property, she says, the prosecution should treat it as such, which would mean anti-money laundering laws would not apply. This same argument was made by Ross Ulbricht's defense team, but the judge presiding over the case dismissed this motion in July.

Ulbricht's messaging is consistent with her son's legal team, lead by New York attorney Joshua Dratel. Earlier this month, the defense filed a pretrial memo that accused the prosecution of violating Ross Ulbricht's 4th Amendment rights. Chief among these was the assertion that the court should dismiss the case because the prosecution has not disclosed how they first discovered the location of the Silk Road servers—a key finding that yielded 14 search warrants and has served as the lynchpin for the government's case against Ross Ulbricht.

Various legal experts told Fusion that it was difficult to gauge whether the "kitchen sink approach"—a legal strategy in which multiple arguments are made in hopes that one sticks—would prove to be successful.

For their part, prosecutors are not abating their efforts. On Thursday, prosecutor Preet Bharara filed three additional charges against the alleged Silk Road mastermind. In addition to the four he already faces—conspiracy to traffic narcotics, computer hacking conspiracy, money laundering, and continuing criminal enterprise—Ulbricht has also been charged with "narcotics trafficking," "distribution of narcotics by means of the Internet," and "conspiracy to traffic fraudulent identification documents."


Ross Ulbricht's trial is scheduled for Nov. 3, 2014.

Fidel Martinez is an editor at He's also a Texas native and a lifelong El Tri fan.