Aussie to be sentenced in NY over drugs

US prosecutors have asked a judge to sentence a Queensland prison counseller to a maximum 12.


5 years’ jail for his role in the massive global drug-trafficking website, Silk Road.

Peter Nash, 42, was facing a life sentence when he was arrested by the FBI and Australian authorities in Queensland in December, 2013.

However, prosecutors admitted Nash played a relatively minor role in Silk Road, had entered guilty pleas to drug trafficking conspiracy and money laundering charges and had an impressive history helping people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

“Given Nash’s unique circumstances – both in terms of his low-level role and his mitigating personal factors – the government believes that a below-guidelines sentence is appropriate,” prosecutors Serrin Turner and Timothy Howard told US District Court judge Thomas Griesa.

They have asked for a sentence of between 10 and 12.5 years, while Nash’s lawyer argues the Australian should be given a time-served sentence for the 18 months he has been held in Australian and US jails.

Nash will be sentenced in a Manhattan court on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST).

An undercover operation by US authorities shut Silk Road down on October 2, 2013.

“The website was designed to make conducting illegal transactions on the internet as easy and frictionless as shopping online at mainstream e-commerce websites,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing submission.

Nash was living a double life.

During the day he worked as a senior manager of the Forensic Disability Service in Wacol, Queensland, where he helped intellectually-disabled adults in or facing jail and in his off hours was paid $US1,000 a week as a Silk Road forum moderator.

He didn’t sell drugs on the site, but bought cocaine to feed his own addiction.

Nash on one occasion posted to a discussion thread tips on how drug sellers could evade narcotics detection efforts by Australian customs officers.

He wrote “Australian customs claim they inspect all international mail, either visually, with canine detection, or a scanner” but if vendors prepared their shipments “using non vapor permeable methods” then the chances of packages being scanned by Customs was “approximately nil”.

“The scope of the criminal activity supported through Silk Road was staggering,” prosecutors said.

The site had $US17.3 million in sales of cocaine, $US8.9 million in heroin and $US8.1 million in sales of methamphetamine.

“The dealers and buyers involved in these transactions were spread across the world, from Argentina to Australia, from the United States to the Ukraine,” prosecutors said.

San Francisco-based site creator Ross Ulbricht, known as Dread Pirate Roberts, was convicted in February of seven charges, including conspiring to commit drug trafficking and money laundering, and faces a life sentence.

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