Silk Road adviser ‘Variety Jones’ sentenced to 20 years in prison

Silk Road adviser Roger Clark allegedly suggested that Ross Ulbricht should hire a hitman to kill an ex-employee who stole $350,000

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Known as Variety Jones, Silk Road adviser Roger Thomas Clark was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday, with US prosecutors citing a conspiracy to “distribute massive quantities of narcotics” via bitcoin payments. 

Clark was additionally ordered to forfeit $1.6 million of proceeds. 

During the trial of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, Clark emerged as a mentor and adviser to Ulbricht. Ulbricht was given a double life sentence for operating the black market. 

Cryptocurrency advocates have repeatedly derided Ulbricht’s sentence, including raising funds to campaign for his release.

A statement issued Tuesday by the Southern District of New York, which prosecuted Clark’s case, noted that, in addition to his role as an adviser, Clark also weighed in on how to “protect the Silk Road empire,” even suggesting to Ulbricht the hire of a hitman to kill a staffer accused of stealing $350,000. 

Prosecutors outlined Clark’s role in the Silk Road, which they categorized in line with previous cases: an illicit bitcoin-based marketplace operating on the Tor network designed to facilitate the buying and selling of illicit and illegal goods and services around the world. 

Ulbricht’s journal, which was used in his case, said Clark was a “real mentor.” Clark helped with the infrastructure of the Silk Road — implementing the rules that governed it, as well as promotions and associated sales. He also helped Ulricht to dodge law enforcement when they began investigating the darknet.

Clark was extradited to the US to face trial from Thailand — where he was imprisoned — in 2018.

The Silk Road operated from approximately 2011 to 2013, drawing the attention of authorities in the US and elsewhere in the process for its support of anonymous transactions via Bitcoin. 

In March, the US government sold over 9,800 bitcoins connected to the Silk Road for about $215 million, according to a court filing. 

The bitcoin was connected to James Zhong, a hacker accused of targeting the Silk Road. Zhong was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for the 2012 wire fraud back in April.


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