Richard Bates, a software engineer who works at eBay, admitted last week in the Silk Road trial that he helped build the internet’s largest illegal drug marketplace, Wired reports.
Bates was a college friend of Ross Ulbricht, the man accused of creating The Silk Road. He claims that he helped Ulbricht build The Silk Road from 2010 through to 2011, although he wasn’t always aware of what he was working on.
By the end of 2010, Bates was regularly meeting up with Ulbricht, who was busy building The Silk Road. Bates claims that he didn’t know what the site was, but offered regular “coding advice.” However, Bates continued to assist in the site’s development after Ulbricht revealed to him that the site was a marketplace for illegal drugs.
FBI agents visited Bates after Ulbricht was arrested in 2013. Bates claimed in court on Thursday that he lied to the agents about his involvement with the site, but later admitted that he helped develop The Silk Road, and even bought marijuana, ecstasy, Vicodin, mushrooms, and antibiotics through the marketplace.
Bates will avoid being prosecuted for helping to build The Silk Road and ordering drugs through it because he is standing as a witness in Ulbricht’s trial. “I knew I could go to prison for a very long time,” Bates said.
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