Ross Ulbricht, the individual accused of being the mastermind behind the online drug and crime marketplace known as the Silk Road, has admitted that he did indeed create the site. According to defense attorney Joshua Dratel, however, Ulbricht isn't the shadowy online figure known as Dread Pirate Roberts.
In his opening statement in the case against Ulbricht, Dratel claims his client created the Silk Road as an economic experiment of sorts. Yet after a few months of operation, Dratel said the work became too stressful for Ulbricht which prompted him to hand the site off to others.
It's these people that lured Ulbricht back to the site when they sensed a crackdown from law enforcement was near. Or in other words, Ulbricht was baited back to take the fall for the people that were currently running the site. He was the perfect "fall guy" since, after all, he created it.
Dratel told a jury that he planned to present evidence that Ulbricht was not Dread Pirate Roberts and that the real person behind that name had paid police for information about the Silk Road investigation. That information includes that they had possibly learned his real name, Dratel said.
The attorney also offered up an explanation as to why Ulbricht was in possession of so many Bitcoins at the time of his arrest. Those funds weren't Silk Road profits but rather the earnings from his early investments in the cryptocurrency.
The prosecution, meanwhile, has a mountain of evidence that pegs Ulbricht as the key operator of the Silk Road including logbooks and diaries of his activities as well as a witness - an old college friend - that claims Ulbricht confessed to him that he was behind the site.
The trial will run its course over the next four to six weeks at which time we'll hear both sides of the story.