As the Silk Road probe continues to crack down on those who abused their power, former Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges admits to stealing Bitcoin money.
During an extensive investigation into the Silk Road online drug marketplace, Bridges, then a Secret Service agent, pocketed $820,000 worth of Bitcoins to his personal account.
In a San Francisco federal court on Monday, Aug. 31, the 33-year-old former agent pleaded guilty to money laundering and obstruction of justice. Silk Road spanned over more than two years before its shutdown back in October 2013. According to prosecutors, Silk Road generated over $214 million in sales of illicit products, including drugs, using Bitcoin.
The creator of Silk Road used the alias "Dead Pirate Roberts" but was identified as Ross Ulbricht and sentenced to life in prison for several charges, including dealing drugs over the Internet. The Silk Road Probe expanded in the meantime, and charges piled up for more parties.
Bridges has now admitted that he stole roughly 20,000 Bitcoin back in 2013 and will face the charges. At the time, the 20,000 Bitcoin was worth about $350,000, but the value has since increased to $820,000.
When it comes to federal agents involved in the case, Bridges is not the only one who abused his role to steal Bitcoin during the Silk Road investigation. Just a couple of months ago, Carl Force, who was also a federal agent, also admitted his guilt on several charges related to Silk Road, including stealing digital currency during the federal probe.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell points out the severity of such cases, when those who are supposed to enforce the law are instead breaking it.
"This case shows we will act quickly to hold wrongdoers accountable, no matter who they are," Caldwell noted.
Meanwhile, Chief Richard Weber of the IRS - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) further highlights how perfectly this case illustrates the financial expertise of the agency's special agents. Weber explains that by thoroughly analyzing the block chain, as well as the information found on the Silk Road servers, agents managed to trace how the digital funds flowed, leading them to Bridges.
The defendant's plea agreement includes some sentencing recommendations, but they remain unclear at this point. Both the obstruction and the money laundering counts involve a maximum of 20 years in prison.