In the U.S. government's ongoing inquiry of Silk Road, the online marketplace which was used to sell unlawful drugs, an ex-federal agent has pleaded guilty of stealing bitcoins worth $200,000.
On Wednesday, July 1, the ex-federal agent who was with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) admitted to the theft of the virtual currency and clandestinely soliciting compensation from Ross Ulbricht, the operator of Silk Road, for sharing details of the investigation.
Silk Road, the brainchild of Ulbricht, was closed down by the authorities in October 2013 and Ulbricht, on the other hand, was given a life sentence after being found guilty of distributing drugs illegally (and other charges) by a jury in Manhattan.
Silk Road operated for more than two years until it was shut down, generating more than $214 million in sales of drugs and other illicit goods using bitcoins, prosecutors said.
The Department of Justice revealed that the agent in question is 46-year-old Carl Force from Baltimore, who was undercover during the Silk Road operations. The ex-agent was working undercover as a drug dealer under the moniker "Nob" in 2013 and during his stint offered to vend false driver's licenses along with inside information on law enforcement in lieu of bitcoins.
The remuneration for his services i.e. bitcoins worth $100,000 were deposited into the former federal agent's personal bank account. Force has pleaded guilty to money laundering, committing extortion, as well as obstruction of justice at a federal court in San Francisco. He was clad in an orange jumpsuit as he admitted to the list of unlawful acts.
In a surprising revelation, Force also admitted to agreeing to a film contract on the Silk Road investigation with Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. This was done sans the knowledge and consent of his superiors and would have fetched Force $240,000.
Per government documents, while undercover as Nob, the former federal agent convinced Ulbricht to shell out $50,000 in bitcoins in August 2013. Force pretended he had details on the ongoing investigation.
Moreover, in September 2013, he also deployed the name "French Maid" online and lured Ulbricht with the offer of information on investigations in lieu of bitcoins worth $98,000.
Force worked as a special agent with the DEA for nearly 15 years. His hearing is slated for Oct. 19, 2015.
Photo: Zach Copley | Flickr