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Federal Jury Convicts Dread Pirate Roberts: Hero or Drug Dealer 2.0?

The founder of the Silk Road website faces life in prison for running an underground Internet emporium that catered to hackers and drug traffickers. According to Bloomberg News, Ross Ulbricht, 30, who used the moniker "Dread Pirate Roberts," offered people the chance to anonymously buy illegal merchandise and services with bitcoins. On Wednesday, a jury took just three and a half hours to find him guilty on all seven federal charges. 

Ulbricht didn't have a visible reaction to the verdict. His parents, Lyn and Kirk Ulbricht, both dropped their heads, while some of Ulbricht's supporters wept.

"Ross is a hero," a courtroom observer, Derrick Broze of Houston, shouted as U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest was wrapping up the proceedings.

Ulbricht's lawyer, Joshua Dratel, said his client will appeal. Dratel said Forrest blocked him from calling witnesses supporting the defense.

Prosecutors claimed Ulbricht ran Silk Road from 2011 to 2013, armed only with a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection. When he was arrested, his computer was filled with evidence showing he conceived the site, ran it and even tried to arrange the murder of five people who threatened the anonymity of buyers and sellers. Prosecutors told jurors that $213 million in bitcoins were used to buy drugs and other illegal items on the site. Ulbricht faces as long as life in prison when he's sentenced May 15.

One of the counts carries a mandatory 20-year minimum.

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