How do you make moral decisions if you have no frame of reference other than your own opinion? The tale of Silk Road, part 3.

What Dread Pirate Roberts thought he paid for when he wired out a bunch of bitcoins. Not once, but five separate times. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Let’s see where he ended up with this Be-Your-Own-God routine.

The feds busted one recipient of a pound of cocaine.  He was a moderator on the Silk Road site. The feds kept this guy under wraps.

Dread Pirate Roberts, who also went by DPR, concluded that this person, who worked for Silk Road, had absconded with the dope and dropped out of sight. The feds gained control over the guy’s computer.

(This is part 3 of a discussion of a book on Silk Road, American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. Read parts 1 and 2. Since writing the initial draft of this series, I’ve added two more posts and another 700 words.)

An undercover fed pretending to be a big time drug dealer was in contact with DPR.  So during their conversations, DPR happened to complain that someone had ripped him off. This undercover cop offered to send some of his goons over to rough up the guy.  DPR agreed to have his correspondent get some of his guys over there to work over the double-crosser.

So Carl Force of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Shaun Bridges of the United States Secret Service pretended to torture this guy for DPR’s benefit by actually torturing the guy, taking pictures as they repeatedly dunked his involuntarily cooperating head in a bathtub full of water.

Oh, the two feds were yelling and screaming at this poor sap demanding he identify where he hid the money that DPR said he stole. The reality was that during the interrogation, one of the agents knew that he, the USSS agent, not this unlucky guy was the thief.

So while the agents dunked the guy in the bathtub in an effort to get his confession of stealing money he didn’t steal, they took pictures of the actual torture and, pretending to be a big-time drug smuggler, later sent the pix to DPR to show they roughed up the guy.

While Mr. Force and another fed continued the torture, Mr. Bridges left the bathroom for a few minutes.

To make a longer story shorter, Carl Force and Shaun Bridges separately either stole or scammed a lot of money out of Silk Road. DPR logically blamed the immediate theft on this poor sap (who was actually in custody, getting dunked in the bathtub, with his computer under the control of the DEA and USSS agents). While the DEA guy continued the dunking, the USSS guy took the laptop out of the room and stole even more money.

What would you do with a guy who stole $350,000 of *your* money?

Stealing $350,000 made Mr. Ulbricht really mad. That was *his* money.  He thought about having the supposed thief killed.

Let’s see just how far can you can go when you have essentially unlimited financial power without any frame of reference for morality.

DPR discussed what to do about this offense with his #1 lieutenant, a guy called “Variety Jones”, who was also a mentor and coach. The Department of Justice alleges Variety Jones’ actual name is Roger Thomas Clark, although that has not been proved in court.

After DPR and Variety Jones pondered what to do, DPR made a decision.

The conclusion?

DPR talked to Mr. Force, who was pretending to be this big time drug dealer call “Nob”, asking if Nob had a way to find people who could kill this supposed thief of dope and money. Sure, the undercover fed said.

So, DPR contracted with Nob to kill the thief.

Mr. Force and Mr. Bridges forced the guy to stage a photo of his wet torso looking like he was dead, with some soup spilled next to his mouth to make it look like he vomited when he died.

DPR did not actually have this guy killed, but thought that he did. In fact, Mr. Ulbricht paid Nob in Bitcoins for the supposedly completed services.

The book says that DPR contracted to have several other people killed, but the feds couldn’t find any actual bodies. If I understand the book’s comments correctly, Mr. Ulbricht hired five contract executions.

Five contract killings.


However, it seems that all of the ‘hits’ were scams.

The point is DPR believed the presumed scammers had pull off the several jobs and he paid them for their services. The book says the trial judge stated at sentencing that Mr. Ulbricht received photos which asserted to document the killings.

Becoming a serial murderer is how far Mr. Ulbricht was willing to go with his be-your-own-god moral framework.

Continued in part 4.

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