Senior Adviser of Silk Road Website Pleads Guilty to Drug Distribution Conspiracy
New York, NY(Law Firm Newswire) March 3, 2020 – A Canadian national pled guilty in New York to a charge arising from his involvement with Silk Road, an underground website where illegal drugs and other goods were bought and sold.
Roger Thomas Clark, 56, admitted to helping run Silk Road, the now-defunct online black market that allowed users to anonymously purchase and sell illicit drugs, hacking services and other unlawful activities outside the reach of law enforcement. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics in Manhattan federal court.
“While the dark web may provide purported anonymity, it does not completely hide criminal activities from law enforcement,” commented Peter Brill, a New York criminal defense attorney with Brill Legal Group, who is not involved with the case. “Under New York law, there are many degrees of conspiracy, each with its own punishment that ranges from a few months in jail to life in prison. In many drug cases there are charges for distribution of narcotics and separate charges for conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Because drug charges are heavily prosecuted, it is important to seek strategic, knowledgeable legal representation.”
Clark previously faced the possibility of life in prison after prosecutors charged him with six criminal counts including conspiracy to commit money laundering and drug trafficking. He was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, more than four years ago. The Canadian citizen remained in prison there until he was extradited to the United States in June 2018.
Silk Road was launched on the dark web in 2011 and remained in operation until law enforcement shut it down in 2013. The site had more than 100,000 customers, including drug dealers and other unlawful vendors. It was used to carry out illegal transactions amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars via digital cryptocurrency and to launder money.
Clark concealed his identity using nicknames such as Variety Jones, VJ and Plural of Mongoose. Prosecutors claimed he was a key figure in Silk Road’s development and served as a senior adviser to the website’s creator and operator, Ross William Ulbricht.
Clark advised Ulbricht on a wide range of matters related to running the site including technical infrastructure, security vulnerabilities and guidelines for users and vendors. He also kept abreast of law enforcement’s efforts to investigate Silk Road. Authorities said Clark arranged an attempted murder-for-hire after a staff member was suspected of theft from Silk Road.
Ulbricht, 35, was arrested in San Francisco in 2013. He was convicted on several counts related to operating Silk Road and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
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