President Donald Trump is reportedly considering clemency for Ross Ulbricht, the convicted founder of online drug marketplace Silk Road.
Trump has privately expressed sympathy for Ulbricht, and the White House counsel's office is reviewing documents related to his case, the Daily Beast reported Tuesday, citing unidentified sources familiar with the matter. Ulbricht's name is among others being considered for commutations and pardons before Trump leaves office on Jan. 20, the Daily Beast reported.
In 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after a jury took less than three hours to find him guilty of all seven charges he faced, which related to computer hacking conspiracy, narcotics trafficking conspiracy and money laundering. The virtual bazaar, which Ulbricht founded in 2011, was a haven for buyers and sellers of illegal narcotics, allowing them to conduct business without easy detection by authorities.
Prosecutors said Ulbricht conceived and oversaw Silk Road operations as the marketplace grew into a $1.2 billion drug empire known by users as an Amazon of sorts for narcotics, with buyer ratings and money-back guarantees. Prosecutors and the FBI also said Ulbricht hired people over the internet to kill those trying to extort him for cash, although there is no evidence the murders occurred.
Ulbricht's defense acknowledged that he was indeed the creator of the Silk Road but contended that he handed responsibility to someone else. They claimed Ulbricht became the perfect "fall guy" for that unnamed operator of the site.
Neither the White House nor Ulbricht's family immediately responded to a request for comment.