Roger Thomas Clark, Canadian adviser to 'Silk Road' website owner, pleads guilty to U.S. drug charge

Roger Thomas Clark, Canadian adviser to ‘Silk Road’ website owner, pleads guilty to U.S. drug charge

Roger Thomas Clark, a Canadian man who admitted to helping run the infamous Silk Road online drug bazaar, has pleaded guilty in New York to a single related count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics.

Clark entered the plea in Manhattan federal court Thursday, the Department of Justice announced afterward, more than six years since the FBI shuttered Silk Road and over four years since Clark’s arrest overseas.

Launched on the dark web in early 2011, Silk Road served an outlet for buying and selling illegal drugs and other contraband using digital cryptocurrency prior to be taken offline in late 2013.

In the interim, the Justice Department said the site catered to more than 100,000 customers and consequently facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars worth of drug deals and other illegal transactions.

Using aliases such as “Plural of Mongoose” and “Variety Jones,” Clark was accused by prosecutors of effectively serving as a senior adviser to the website’s former owner and operator, Ross William Ulbricht.

Ulbricht, 35, was arrested in San Francisco in late 2013. He was subsequently convicted on several counts related to running Silk Road and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Clark, 56, was taken into custody roughly two years later in Bangkok, Thailand, where he remained behind bars for more than 2.5 years prior to being extradited to the U.S. in June 2018.

Prosecutors had previously charged Clark with six criminals counts, including narcotics trafficking and conspiracy to commit money laundering, among others, putting him at risk of spending life behind bars.

Clark now faces a a maximum sentence of merely 20 years in prison for pleading guilty to the single count of narcotics conspiracy, according to the Justice Department.

He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, on May 29.

Clark had previously dismissed the likelihood of being extradited from Thailand to the U.S., telling the Ars Technica website in 2016: “They don’t have [expletive] on me.”

More recently, Clark entered an affidavit in October in which he acknowledged providing technical advice on running Silk Road and referred to himself as being the website’s “de facto head of marketing.”

“I often developed ideas for changing and improving the technical structure of the site to make it easier for users to access,” Clark wrote. “I developed ideas on how to expand the Silk Road brand in to other areas and how to improve the site.”

Federal prosecutors depicted Clark’s role helping to run Silk Road as being quite ruthless, however.

“Clark was a central figure in helping to lead Silk Road and in advocating violence to protect the site,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “Clark even went so far as to urge, and facilitate, the attempted killing of a co-conspirator suspected of stealing from Silk Road.”

A defense lawyer representing Clark did not immediately return a request for comment.

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