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Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ROGER THOMAS CLARK, a/k/a “Plural of Mongoose,” a/k/a “Variety Jones,” a/k/a “VJ,” a/k/a “cimon,” was sentenced to 20 years in prison today for conspiring to distribute massive quantities of narcotics, arising out of his role as the top adviser to Ross Ulbricht, a/k/a “Dread Pirate Roberts,” the owner and operator of the “Silk Road” online illicit black market. During its operation from 2011 until 2013, Silk Road was used by thousands of drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to more than 100,000 buyers and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars derived from those unlawful transactions. CLARK advised Ulbricht on all aspects of the enterprise, including urging and facilitating an attempted murder-for-hire. CLARK’s sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein. CLARK previously pled guilty before the late U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III on January 30, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Silk Road was a secret online marketplace for illegal drugs, computer hacking services, and a host of other criminal activity. Roger Thomas Clark was a central figure in helping to lead Silk Road and in advocating violence, even murder, to protect this digital drug empire. Today’s sentence is another reminder that criminal marketplaces, like Silk Road, are a road to prison.”
According to the allegations in the Superseding Indictment, court filings, statements made in court, and evidence presented during the 2015 trial of Ross Ulbricht, Silk Road’s founder:
Ulbricht created Silk Road in approximately January 2011 and owned and operated the underground website until it was shut down by law enforcement in October 2013. Silk Road emerged as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet at the time and one of the first online marketplaces to exclusively use cryptocurrency to facilitate illegal transactions. Silk Road was massive in scope; there were more than 1.5 million transactions on the site, involving more than 115,000 buyer accounts and 3,000 seller accounts. These transactions had a total value of approximately $213 million, including more than $183 million in drug sales. The drugs sold on Silk Road included more than 82 kilograms of cocaine and 26 kilograms of heroin. Silk Road was also used to launder hundreds of millions of dollars deriving from these unlawful transactions. Silk Road was specifically designed to allow its users to buy and sell drugs and other illegal goods and services anonymously and outside the reach of law enforcement through the use of the Tor network and a Bitcoin-based payment system.
In his journal, Ulbricht described CLARK as a “real mentor” who advised Ulbricht about, among other things, security vulnerabilities in the Silk Road site, technical infrastructure, the rules that governed Silk Road users and vendors, and the promotion of sales on Silk Road, including the sales of narcotics. CLARK also provided advice to Ulbricht on developing a “cover story” to make it appear as though Ulbricht had sold Silk Road. In addition, CLARK assisted Ulbricht with hiring a programmer to help improve and maintain the infrastructure of Silk Road. CLARK also was responsible for gathering information to counter law enforcement’s efforts to investigate Silk Road. CLARK advised Ulbricht on how to protect the Silk Road criminal empire. For instance, when a Silk Road staff member was suspected of stealing approximately $350,000 in Bitcoin from the site, CLARK suggested to Ulbricht that Ulbricht commission a murder-for-hire. Ulbricht took that suggestion. Although the attempted murder-for-hire did not result in any harm to the intended target, Ulbricht paid the purported hitman $80,000 for the job.
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In addition to his prison sentence, CLARK, 61, a citizen of Canada, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $1,606,150.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding joint efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation’s New York Field Office, Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) Chicago-O’Hare, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Field Division, and the New York City Police Department. Mr. Williams also thanked the HSI Attaché Bangkok, the Royal Thai Police, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for their support and assistance.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Neff and Vladislav Vainberg are in charge of the prosecution.
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An official website of the United States government