Two weeks after his arrest on federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges related to the online drug marketplace Silk Road, alleged proprietor Ross William Ulbricht has gone ahead and granted his first interview with the media, despite the better judgment of his court-appointed attorney.
Published in San Francisco Magazine today, Lauren Smiley's profile of the (alleged!) Dread Pirate Roberts depicts a lonely 29-year-old who, prior to his arrest in the Science Fiction section of the Glen Park Library, led what he calls "a pretty private life." Ulbricht's former roommates knew him by the name Joshua Terrey and assumed he was a freelance currency trader who was constantly buried in his laptop. The FBI, on the other hand, saw him as an arrogant man bent on protecting his fortune of Bitcoin — which, by the way, is reportedly worth some $80 million but the feds can't seize because they can't get the password out of Ulbricht.
Now Ulbricht is currently in jail in Oakland, where he's waiting to be extradited to New York. His fellow inmates apparently have a sense of who he is thanks to the TV news, the food on the inside is "not half bad," but it is the disconnect from the online world that seems the most jarring:
He says he’s been “isolated” from the wall-to-wall press coverage that’s been dissecting everything about his life, from his high school pencil drawings to his adult turn towards libertarianism. I tell him about the reporter from Forbes who tracked down his former roommates on 15th Avenue, and he looks astonished. He repeats the statement back to me as a question, unbelieving. When I say his name on Google brings up an endless string of news stories about his takedown, he replies that it used to only bring up hits about his accomplishments in physics.
As for his future, as he stares down a possible life sentence, Smiley finds some meaning in a 2010 screed Ulbricht posted on Facebook asking, "Is it possible for someone locked in a cage to be freer than someone who isn’t?"
Anyhow, even though Ulbricht is mum on any details even remotely connected to the case (he won't even say which coffee shops he liked to work from), the profile is an interesting portrait of someone who, by many accounts, could be one part Zuckerberg, one part Walter White. (In which case socks with sandals are definitely his whitey tighties.) Read on at S.F. Magazine.