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United States v. Ulbricht

United States District Court, S.D. New York

October 24, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ROSS WILLIAM ULBRICHT, a/k/a

OPINION & ORDER

KATHERINE B. FORREST, District Judge.

On February 4, 2014, a federal grand jury returned Indictment 14 Cr. 68 (the "Original Indictment"), charging Ross Ulbricht ("defendant" or "Ulbricht") on four counts-all stemming from the creation, administration, and operations of an online marketplace known as "Silk Road." (ECF No. 12 ("Orig. Ind.").) On March 28, 2014, Ulbricht moved to dismiss the Original Indictment in its entirety. (ECF No. 19.) That motion became fully briefed on May 27, 2014 (ECF No. 32), and on July 9, 2014, the Court denied the motion (ECF No. 42). On August 21, 2014, the Government filed Superseding Indictment Sl 14 Cr. 68 (KBF) (the "Superseding Indictment") containing three additional charges. (ECF No. 52 ("Sup. Ind.").) Ulbricht's trial is scheduled to begin on January 5, 2015.

Pending before the Court is defendant's motion to dismiss Counts One through Four of the Superseding Indictment, for a bill of particulars, and "for any such other and further relief... which to the Court seems just and proper." (ECF No. 71.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion is DENIED.

I. THE INDICTMENTS[1]

The Original Indictment charged Ulbricht with four crimes: Narcotics Trafficking Conspiracy (Count One), Continuing Criminal Enterprise ("CCE") (Count Two), Computer Hacking Conspiracy (Count Three), and Money Laundering Conspiracy (Count Four). (Orig. Ind. ¶¶ 1-21.)

The Superseding Indictment, filed on August 21, 2014, charges Ulbricht with seven crimes: Narcotics Trafficking (Count One), Distribution of Narcotics by Means of the Internet (Count Two), Narcotics Trafficking Conspiracy (Count Three), Continuing Criminal Enterprise (Count Four), Conspiracy to Commit and Aid and Abet Computer Hacking (Count Five), Conspiracy to Traffic in Fraudulent Identification Documents (Count Six), and Money Laundering Conspiracy (Count Seven). (Sup. Ind. ¶¶ 1-31.) The Superseding Indictment differs from the Original Indictment in the following three respects:

1. The Superseding Indictment contains three new charges (Counts One, Two, and Six).
2. Counts One, Two, Three, Five, and Six of the Superseding Indictment include an allegation that Ulbricht aided and abetted the commission of the charged crime. (Sup. Ind. ¶¶ 5, 8, 13, 15, 21, 22, 25, 26.)

3. Count Three of the Superseding Indictment alleges that Ulbricht paid a Silk Road user ("User-1") approximately $150, 000 to murder another Silk Road user ("User-2") who was threatening to release the identities of users of the site, and approximately $500, 000 to murder four additional persons believed to be associated with User-2. (Id. ¶ 16(b), (c).)

On October 2, 2014, Ulbricht filed a motion to dismiss Counts One through Four of the Superseding Indictment, for a bill of particulars, and "for any such other and further relief... which to the Court seems just and proper." (ECF No. 71.) That motion is the subject of this Opinion & Order.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Sufficiency of an Indictment

Rule 7(c)(l) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that an indictment "must be a plain, concise, and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged." Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(c)(l). "[A]n indictment is sufficient if it, first, contains the elements of the offense charged and fairly informs a defendant of the charge against which he must defend, and, second, enables him to plead an acquittal or conviction in bar of future prosecutions for the same offense." Hamling v. United States , 418 U.S. 87, 117 (1974) (citations omitted); see also United States v. De La Pava , 268 F.3d 157, 162 (2d Cir. 2001) ("An indictment must sufficiently inform the defendant of the charges against him and provide enough detail so that he may plead double jeopardy in a future prosecution based on the same set of events." (citation omitted)). "[A] facially valid indictment returned by a duly constituted grand jury" ...


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