Joshua Dratel, lawyer for convicted Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, today sent a discovery demand to the attorney general's office in Maryland, where a dormant but not fully dead separate prosecution of Ulbricht exists.
As explained in a press conference today in New York (which I listened to over the phone), Dratel and his team have learned, after Ulbricht's conviction and life sentence for various crimes associated with founding and operating the darkweb sales site Silk Road, that another federal agent involved in the investigation against the site's pseudonymous operator "Dread Pirate Roberts" (who the feds insist was, and always was, Ulbricht) was committing crimes of his own, including getting "DPR" to pay him for ongoing inside information from the investigation against him.
Dratel and his team want to know what the government knows about this mystery man known as "notwonderful" and "albertpacino" on Silk Road's forum and sales servers. As Dratel said in today's press conference, the prosecution has an ongoing legal obligation to share exculpatory evidence as the appeals process continues.
Some documentary evidence on the payoffs from "DPR" to "albertpacino," which indicated the government at one time thought "albertpacino" might be an alias for already-known corrupt investigator Carl Force of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Dratel says he is confident "albertpacino/notwonderful" is neither Force nor the other known corrupt investigator, Shaun Bridge of the Secret Service.
Two things leap out from what Dratel does now know, as he sees it: one, that the version of the Silk Road forum server imaged and used as evidence in the prosecution had the record of DPR's correspondence with this mystery agent "albertpacino/notwonderful" wiped.
This, Dratel says, casts severe doubt on the integrity of the digital trail of evidence against Ulbricht.
Second, while Dratel and his team have most of that wiped correspondence now at their disposal, what they have stops on August 15, 2013, about six weeks before Ulbricht was arrested.
The missing weeks may well indicate that a theory Dratel wants the court to consider more seriously might be true: that the "DPR" who "notwonderful" was telling tales to and being paid off by may have had time to disappear and frame Ulbricht in those last weeks.