On Wednesday, Ross Ulbricht, the alleged creator of anonymous online drug market Silk Road, appeared in a New York court for the first time in a nondescript hearing that seemed little more than a bureaucratic proceeding. Further developments in the Silk Road investigation, however, were revealed a day before the trial, as Maryland court documents suggested that a man in custody may have been used by federal agents to learn more about the illegal narcotics website.
Court documents uncovered by The Baltimore Sun show that Jacob Theodore George IV, a former Silk Road vendor going by the name "digitalink", pleaded guilty to selling heroin and bath salts on the online marketplace from about Nov. 2011, to about Jan. 18, 2012. However, based on forum posts and updates to the drug marketplace's website, George's alleged account was active as late as Jan. 26, 2012, suggesting that he may have possibly cooperated with federal authorities.
George's attorney said he had been in custody since last year, but the charges against him were not filed until after Ulbricht's arrest and the FBI's seizure of Silk Road around Oct. 1, 2013. A spokesperson from the Drug Enforcement Administration said George was among the first to plead guilty as part of the investigation into the site.