Undercover Agents Plundered the Dread Pirate Roberts

Undercover agents Carl Force (DEA) and Shaun Bridges (Secret Service) are facing charges including money laundering and wire fraud after they plundered the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Photo by: Nicolas Raymond

Photo by: Nicolas Raymond

Who is this Dread Pirate Roberts?

Ross Ulbricht, AKA the Dread Pirate Roberts was owner of Silk Road – an online black market.  Silk Road was an internet platform where illegal drugs and other contraband were sold and purchased.  It ran on the darknet Tor, an anonymous network where users could browse, purchase, and sell without being tracked by authorities.  Regrettably for Ulbricht, Silk Road was tracked and about to be taken down…but not before it was plundered first.

Arr, stole his bitcoins they did

Undercover agents Carl Force and Shaun Bridges were both involved in a task force to bring down Silk Road and its creator, the infamous Dread Pirate Roberts (Ulbricht).  Force was working under the alias of Nob, a big time drug dealer and had been corresponding under that alias with Ulbricht throughout the investigation.  During the investigation of Silk Road, Force and Bridges commandeered the account of  Silk Road admin Curtis Green from Spanish Fork, UT that Force had recently arrested and used his account to steal bitcoins from Silk Road users. Ulbricht discovered that 350 thousand dollars’ worth of bitcoins were pilfered off his website and tracked the stolen funds back to Green’s account.

Dead men tell no tales

After speaking with a close confident and assuming that Green was in fact the one who stole from Silk Road accounts, Ulbricht decided that the scallywag must be dealt the ultimate punishment for the theft- death.  Ironically, he hired Nob (Force) of all people to kill Green.  Curtis Green was willing to cooperate fully with the authorities after he was arrested during a setup by Force, and especially when he heard about the hit that Ulbricht put out on him. Force and Bridges worked together with Green to stage the very realistic appearing torture and murder of Green.  Pictures were taken during the spectacle and sent to Ulbricht for confirmation of the hit.  Not only was the Dread Pirate Roberts satisfied, he paid Force a hefty amount of doubloons for the deed. There were 5 other hits by Ulbricht noted during the investigation, however no more evidence has been located.

Scrub the poop deck or walk the plank?

Ulbricht will find out on Friday is he is facing 20 years or life in prison for his kingpin role in the drug trafficking website.  An intelligent young man that used his talents poorly, Ulbricht begged the judge for leniency in an eloquently written, one and a half page letter. Ulbricht will definitely be serving at least 20 years in prison for his crimes, but he hopes to not spend the rest of his life behind bars.  That dream is a possibility seeing how he is not facing any charges of attempted murder. Why those charges are being left out, one can only assume.  It is possible that bringing those charges to the table will put further light on the warped dealings of the federal agents in this case.  So what is to be done for those crooked agents? At this time, both Force and Bridges are looking at federal charges of money laundering and wire fraud. Force is also facing charges of conflict of interest and theft of government property.

Batten down the hatches

Crimes via the internet are quickly evolving and bringing down savvy, curious computer users in its wake.  Dealing with websites that are run off hidden networks is dangerous and very often involve illegal activity.  If you are someone you know has gotten involved in illegal internet activity, contact a criminal defense attorney that understands the laws pertaining to internet crimes.

Post Bail or Wait in Jail?

When you’ve been arrested and booked for a crime, you will often have the choice to post bail or wait in jail for your first court appearance.  There are pros and cons to each option and what is best for one person may not be for another.  It is important to discuss with your attorney whether or not posting bail is right for you.

Photo by: Sarah Nichols

Photo by: Sarah Nichols

Financial Cost of Posting Bail

One way to post bail is to take all that extra money you have lying around and pay cash for the full bail amount.  As long as you attend all your court dates, you should get your money refunded to you at the end.  If you do not have money or assets enough to cover your bail amount, you can use a bail bond agency.  This service will cost you a fee of 10% the amount of the bail and may be reduced to 8% if you have an attorney.  This fee is much less than paying the full amount of the bail, but the agency’s fee will never be returned to you.  No matter how you decide to do it, posting bail is going to cost you.  You have to decide if you can afford it and if it is worth it for a few extra days of freedom.  Keep in mind also that bail amounts can change with your first hearing.  If you have used a bail bond agency and your bail amount rises, you will be returned to jail until you can pay the new amount.

Comforts of Home

Jail is not comfortable.  If this is your first stint, you will likely find the accommodations at your county jail to be rougher and more frightening than a cheap motel in a bad neighborhood. If you are tired, malnourished, and sporting stripes, you will not appear or feel professional when being presented before a judge. Having the time in the comfort of your own home can give you opportunity to freshen up and look presentable during your hearing.  Oftentimes speaking to a judge at your arraignment hearing can get you out of jail temporarily on your own recognizance.  If you are a repeat offender and familiar with this option, you may decide to grin and bear it, waiting in jail to save you and your family the cost of posting bail.  Most arraignment hearings are just a few days after the booking date, so your time spent in jail may be short lived anyway.

Other obligations

A high percentage of people who are booked into jail have other obligations awaiting them at work or home. Although the time spent in jail before arraignment is usually short, employers and family members may not appreciate you being out of reach during that time. If you post bail, within hours you are able to carry on with your life while you await your first hearing. This gives you opportunity to inform your employer of your circumstances, arrange care for your family members if needed, and speak in depth with your attorney to prepare for your hearing.

Buying Time

Prosecuting attorneys will usually try to move cases along quickly if someone is incarcerated. Many jails are overcrowded and keeping someone in longer than needed can cost tax papers unnecessary funds. With this is mind, if you post bail your case may creep along slower, giving your attorney adequate time to cement a defense and allow time for witnesses for the prosecution to fall out of contact. While this waiting game can be mentally difficult, it might help your case in the long run. Ask your attorney if posting bail might work in your favor.

Legal Counsel

Before you decide to post bail or wait in jail, contact a criminal defense attorney. Having legal counsel there to help you with the decision to post bail or wait in jail can save you funds, give you guidance, and restore your peace of mind.

No Charges for Utah Man who Killed Hijacker

No charges will be issued for the man who killed a hijacker in Utah this weekend.  On Saturday May 2nd, a 31 year old man heard the cries of a hijacking victim being pulled from her car outside a department store in Orem, Utah.  When he came to the victim’s aid, the 27 year old hijacker dove toward him.  As a result of this aggressive action, the 31 year old shot the hijacker once in the chest.  He later died from his injuries.

Hijacker killed by Utah man

Photo by: Mika Järvinen

Killed for Stealing a Car?

There are many speculations as to why a citizen can open fire on an unarmed man for nothing more than trying to steal a car.  Even though the 31 year old man could say he fired his weapon in self-defense when the suspect charged him, the hijacker stealing a car with the victim inside was a valid enough reason to take that shot.

Protected by the law

In Utah Code 76-2-402 it states that “A person is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury […] to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. […] Burglary of a vehicle, defined in Section 76-6-204, does not constitute a forcible felony except when the vehicle is occupied at the time unlawful entry is made or attempted.”

Know your gun rights

The man who fired the gun had taken all the required classes to earn his concealed weapon permit and rightfully fired his weapon in self-defense.  It is unclear at this time if the Good Samaritan knew he could fire his gun simply to stop a hijacking.  Utah has one of the highest amounts of concealed weapon permits in the country.  It is essential for persons packing heat to know their rights before they are put in situations where they might need to use a weapon.  They who have already encountered these circumstances need to contact a criminal defense attorney who is educated in Utah gun laws.