It is a hard rejection for Ross William Ulbricht, who awaits trial on charges of money laundering for drug trafficking and murder-for-hire charges on his Bitcoin website in New York federal court. His defense team’s motion to dismiss based upon the argument that Bitcoin is not “money” was struck down by Judge Katherine Forress in a 51 page summary released today by PYMNTS.com.
Silk Road, Ulbricht’s original site, which he founded in 2011 and operated until the FBI shut him down Sept.30 in 2013 has been awaiting trial in New York federal court. Ulbricht operated the Silk Road website under his online name as Dread Pirate Roberts and became popular leader for the newly crypto-currency Bitcoin. As momentum for Bitcoin grew, so did the Silk Road website.
Unfortunately the Silk Road site became an online passage way to drug trafficking and other questionable activities including murder-for hire. Ulbricht as always maintained that he did not know of the criminal activities on the site. That argument does not hold so his defense team went to the argument that Bitcoin is not money.
Today judge Forress issued in her statement, “that the money laundering statute is broad enough to encompass use of Bitcoins in financial transactions. Any other reading would-in light of Bitcoin’s sole raison d’etre-be nonsensical.”
There has been a plea of guilty from Cornelis Jan "SuperTrips" Slomp, 23. He used the Silk Road site to traffic in drugs and took the 15 year sentence exchange for his guilty plea.
Since the Silk Road debacle several responsible entrepreneurs such as Barry Silbert and Jeremy Allaire have appeared to provide legal and viable options to use Bitcoin. California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that Bitcoin is lawful money in the state of California. Coinbase a reputable exchange provides merchants with cost efficient use for its payment receipts.
Bitcoin through Robocoin ATM appears in Rayburn Hall at the U.S. Congress in Washington D.C. There have been many approaches to fostering Bitcoin for good through charitable donations and World Aid now accepts Bitcoin.
While Coin Desk reports today that the Bitcoin economy is expanding, there is a Bitcoin enthusiast who is leading a scavenger hunt around San Francisco this month with a Bitcoin wallet placed in locations around the city.
At a CoinSummit at the East Wintergarden in London’s financial district, Canary Wharf, yesterday and today Bitcoin is very much the center of the gathering for the serious players. At the summit Barend van den Brande of Hummingbird Ventures made an important point that the growth between merchant and consumer adoption is greater in number with merchants. He explained that exchanges signed up merchants aggressively while Bitcoin consumer education lagged. Thus, it created the imbalance.
It was acknowledged that venture capital in Bitcoin was slow in Europe and in a wait and see mode. It was noted that Tim Draper purchased the bitcoins auctioned by the Dept. of Justice from the Silk Road seizure in an attempt to create liquidity of bitcoin. Draper is a serious venture capitalist from San Mateo, California who holds Bitcoin entrepreneur boot camps.
The Bitcoin market watchers at the conference are focused on the future of bitcoin use in acceptance on Wall Street. Silk Road is becoming a distant past as a foot note in discussions amongst the serious Bitcoin advocates who look for the future in its use and acceptance.
Roger Ver a serious Bitcoin investor and advocate was the key note speaker who stated: “Not only is bitcoin a fair money system, it’s also a hell of a lot easier to pull out your smartphone and hit ‘send’ when you’re jetlagged rather than pulling out your credit card and typing all those numbers.”