A mother’s love never dies. In the case of Ross Ulbricht and the Silk Road trial, Ross’mother Lyn Ulbricht proves this truth on a daily basis. A woman who could spend her days in grief, Lyn Ulbricht chooses to move forward with positivity — helping others through her activism. Lyn Ulbricht is now a known activist fighting for her son’s rights and battling against the failed drug war. She doesn’t just do this for Ross, though, she does it to change the precedent.
“I realized this morning that one key to feeling any joy is gratitude. Granted it’s very hard to be grateful for this situation, but there are many gifts within it nonetheless, and for that I am very grateful. Foremost are the great people who have stepped up with support, prayers and good wishes, as well as commitment to liberty. It has been an inspiration to me, our family and to Ross. When I’m discouraged or in despair this, as well as focusing on the big picture, helps keep me going.”
Facing the hardship of her son’s two life sentences, Lyn pushes on and gets ready for the federal appeal. Bitcoin community members, millennials, libertarians, and activists support this woman’s crusade and it very much helps her.
Furthermore, after finding out the certain corruption involved with the Silk Road investigation the family has more hope. Two agents working for the DEA, and other special task-force units recently plead guilty to going rogue and abusing their powers. The officers betrayed the public’s trust and manipulated the case by stealing large sums of Bitcoin and other criminal acts. While being charged with these crimes and going through trial, Shaun Bridges then tried to change his name, and social security number. Blatantly caught by federal agents again, Bridges was put on house arrest and not sentenced to jail. He remained on bail with curfew even though his acts represented a “flight risk,” and was also at the same time caught with illegal firearms. Lyn feels the plea bargain for the two agents shows mass corruption within the evidence of her son’s trial, and also feels that giving Bridges continued outside life on bail is definitely a double standard.
Bitcoin.com got together with Lyn Ulbricht and chatted about these current events, the appeal, and how Ross was doing. Lyn gave us great insight into the lengthy and costly process of the US court system, as well as the great failures of the justice system in America.
Bitcoin.com: How has Ross been doing?
Lyn Ulbricht: I would say overall he’s been doing amazingly well because he’s intentionally staying positive and constructive in there. I know that some of it’s rough on him, obviously. Probably the worst thing he said to me lately was, “I’m really tired of being here.” For Ross saying that, it’s a lot, normally he tries to keep it upbeat. He talks about the class he’s teaching, he’s helping fellow inmates get their high school diplomas –teaching GED — and he really cares about them. Some of the inmates have even written letters describing how much he’s contributed to them.
Ross is studying in there. He’s got a 1,000-page textbook on Artificial Intelligence keeping himself intellectually challenged. —They get up on the roof and outside every few days—which isn’t enough but it’s something. Ross talks about that and does what he can to stay positive and optimistic.
He’s an inspiration to myself, his father, his sister, and the rest of the family. Ross remains very positive and I’m really impressed with how he’s handling it. I don’t know that I could be as quite good at and as strong as he’s been.
BC: Recently Carl Force and Shaun Bridges have been found guilty of going rogue on duty and betraying the public. Do you think this shows the blatant corruption in this investigation?
LU: It certainly confirms that there was widespread corruption on the site investigation. Shaun Bridges was a computer forensics expert with the Secret Service, that’s why I believe he was assigned to the case. Force was pretty good too with this technology, which shows me that they have the ability to have done a lot of things on that site. Our attorneys have said that they had the capability to change passwords, reset PIN numbers, commandeer accounts, including DPR’s (Dread Pirate Roberts) account. They had the power to post private messages, public messages in the forum, and in the marketplace itself. These agents had access to keys, access to bank accounts — basically, they could do whatever they want.
They had every motive to change things because they were stealing millions of dollars or whatever. We don’t even know how much it’s come to because Bridges was $800,000 and Force was more. They changed things to make a breadcrumb trail away from them, so I just don’t see how the evidence is reliable. They are relying on evidence from the site and server, but how could it be reliable? The other really important thing is that much of the evidence about these agents have not been revealed. The cases are sealed by the government and there’s a whole lot of emails—lots and lots of them—that are still encrypted. Apparently they didn’t make decrypting those emails a contingency on their plea, it’s remaining encrypted.
“We don’t even know the extent of the corruption because most of this stuff is not known. I ask myself ‘why? What is the government hiding?”
BC: Do you think it’s strange that Bridges was caught trying to change his name, Social Security, and still remains on bail on the outside?
LU: It’s a pretty blatant double standard because of the argument they used against Ross’s bail. We put together a very strong bail package for Ross. Twenty-seven people who are not wealthy stepped up and pledged their houses, life savings, whatever they could to help him. We got a million dollars in pledges, plus over seventy letters to the judge saying he was not a flight risk and he was not a threat. That was more than our attorney had ever seen in his very long career of thirty plus years in law. We Americans do have a right to bail. But they used “flight risk” and “dangerous” because of these unproven and later uncharged murder-for-hire allegations to deny him bail. Then this guy Shaun Bridges is changing his name, social security, and he’s not a flight risk? Ok, give him the house arrest and an ankle bracelet, but give it to Ross too— this is a double standard. This “dangerousness” allegation was false because Ross had no priors, no violence, and he was never even charged with it. It’s very inconsistent and it’s not fair to Ross.
BC: How has the community of support been towards your son?
LU: Ross is very appreciative of all the support. I’ve filled him in on the fundraisers, I send him articles so he can get a glimpse— he’s very cut off so he can’t get access to email or the internet.
BC: So do you send him paper copies of the online articles?
Yes, exactly. In fact, if people want to send him stuff like that, I know he would read it with interest. We just recently sent him some stills from the “Deep Web” [documentary], he doesn’t get to see the movie. It keeps him going, lets him know he’s not alone.
BC: How is the appeal effort going? Can you explain a little about the process?
LU: Were going to meet with Ross’ attorneys in a week and a half so I’ll know more about the actual appeal then. They have filed the paperwork, which is basically a one page that basically says we are going to file the appeal. They’ve asked for an extension to be able to file it in December because of the corruption and everything. They have a lot of work to do regarding a lot of things in the appeal.
From what I understand, they submit the appeal in writing mid-December, and then I don’t know exactly when but it’s heard before the court— probably in the spring. There will either be oral arguments or there won’t be— it depends on what the court wants. It might be satisfied with just written arguments because the prosecution files theirs as well. They may still want to hear oral arguments, but they are pretty short, roughly 15-30 minutes. That’s what I can understand about the process. It’s three judges from the second circuit, which is New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. They are mainly looking for how this case impacts other people and if the law was properly executed. So the public policy ramifications of this case are something they will also look at as well. The precedent that’s being set and how that impacts society.
BC: Do you think that they punished your son so harshly to send a message to Americans, because they are scared?
LU: Well, you know Cody Wilson made that point. When he said that, I was like, “wow, yeah.” This could be so because it’s something they can’t control. I think that the government by its nature in general is about control. I don’t really think it was about drugs— I don’t think the drug war’s about drugs— I think it’s really about government control.
BC: With all the events you’ve seen in this trial, do you believe “justice” is alive and well in the United States?
LU: I feel like we are in big trouble right now, I really do. After that trial and seeing how the jury was manipulated— seeing how they were spoon-fed only the narrative the prosecution wanted them to hear. With this, the prosecution was able to add things that Ross never got charged for and to keep out things the defense wanted the judiciary to know about. I have very little faith. I hate to say it, but I really do think we are in big trouble as far as our justice system. And the statistics say it all because I believe that 97% of people charged with a crime do not actually go to trial. They are actually advised not to because only 1% out of the 3% that go are acquitted. If you think about that number, it indicates that something is seriously wrong with the trial system. By numbers alone, there are people in jail who are innocent. Statistically, it is very unlikely there are that many guilty people.
“Without fair trials we are in big trouble. Fair trial is the framework of our freedom.”
BC: What would you say to other mothers going through similar experiences with their children?
LU: I just take things one day at a time because otherwise, I’m so overwhelmed and so distraught that I can’t deal with it. So I just concentrate on the next thing to do to help Ross. It’s actually kind of expanded now because I’ve gotten to know people in the prison, and I realize this is a huge problem. So I’m hoping that I’ll be able to help change things for them as well. But really, as a mom, we moved to the North East to see Ross. I think it’s really important for them to be visited and know that they are not alone.
I’d say to just take things one day at a time and try to stay strong. It’s not easy because I’m a mother and because I love Ross so much I cannot stop— same with his father and his family. Try and stay positive and try to have faith, there is a bigger purpose here.
I hope and intend for this whole thing to result in some kind of influence that’s positive — that actually ends up being used for good. We want to shine a light on how we are losing our freedom and we are at a crossroads in our history. You know, we are going into the digital age here, there’s a lot of precedent being set. It’s very important what happens right now, and that helps me too. It’s sorta like seeing the big picture, and I realize it’s very important. It keeps me focused there as well, but as far as the personal side, it’s not easy. Any kind of happiness or positive moment in this, I feel like I cherish that. It helps nurture me because it’s very easy to become overwhelmed and get depressed. Grief-stricken to be honest, and that doesn’t help anything, it doesn’t help Ross and it doesn’t help get any results. So trying to focus on anything positive every day helps.
What do you think about the corruption in the Silk Road Investigation? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Lyn Ulbricht.
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