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Alleged Silk Road Mastermind Pleads Not Guilty To Trafficking

Ross William Ulbricht, the accused proprietor of a shadowy online marketplace that specialized in illegal transactions, has plead not guilty in a Manhattan court to drug trafficking, computer hacking, money laundering and running a continuing criminal conspiracy.

A trial for Ulbricht, who allegedly ran the now-defunct Silk Road, has been set for Nov. 3.

As we reported after Ulbricht's October arrest, the 29-year-old is also known by his hacker handle, Dread Pirate Roberts. He was arrested in a San Francisco library and has been in custody ever since. In a criminal complaint filed immediately after his arrest, Ulbrich was accused of narcotics trafficking and soliciting a Silk Road user "to execute a murder-for-hire of another Silk Road user."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Serrin Turner said Friday that the government may bring additional charges before Ulbricht's trial. The Associated Press says prosecutors have promised to present 'voluminous' evidence at trial.

The AP writes:

"Authorities say Silk Road, which had nearly 1 million registered users by July, generated more than $1 billion in illicit business from January 2011 through September. The website used Bitcoin, the tough-to-track digital currency, before it was shut down."

"... During his court appearance Friday, Ulbricht stood in his prison blue uniform with his hands clasped behind his back, answering 'not guilty' each time [U.S. District Judge Katherine] Forrest read aloud a charge against him."

"His lawyer, Joshua Dratel, said he would be filing motions to challenge the charges."

"Federal investigators say Silk Road users anonymously browsed through nearly 13,000 listings under such categories as cannabis, psychedelics and stimulants. Authorities said many of the transactions were illicit."

The charges and setting of a trial date for Ulbricht comes barely a week after Charlie Shrem, CEO of the BitInstant bitcoin exchange, was charged with money laundering in "a scheme to sell over $1 million in Bitcoins to user of 'Silk Road.'"

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