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Ex-U.S. Agent Charged With Bitcoin Theft to Plead Guilty

Privacy & security - Ex-U.S. Agent Charged With Bitcoin Theft to Plead Guilty

In March of 2015, two federal agents who helped conduct one of the major investigations in the Silk Road case allegedly stole thousands in bitcoin confiscated from the online dark marketplace. The two agents, Shaun Bridges and Carl Force from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Secret Service, were charged with several offenses including wire fraud and money laundering.

This week, Bridges, a special agent for the U.S. Secret Service for the Silk Road case, has come to an agreement with the prosecutors and pleaded guilty for the theft of confiscated bitcoin from Silk Road.

Bridges took part in a Baltimore task force as a computer forensics expert where he contributed to an investigation which acquired enough evidence to accuse Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road for allegedly hiring assassins to murder six individuals that threatened the marketplace.

During the operation, Bridges stole thousands in bitcoin by obtaining the passwords to Silk Road from the marketplace’s customer support representative and moved the bitcoin to his own personal account.

Specifically, the prosecutors claimed that the stolen bitcoin were transferred into Japanese bitcoin exchange Mt Gox, to convert the bitcoin into U.S. dollars and then move it to his bank account.The bitcoin stolen by Bridges are said to be worth around $820,000, which is equivalent to around 3,565 bitcoin, at today’s bitcoin price.

Bridges Pleads Guilty to Theft

This week, in a filing at the San Francisco federal court, Bridges agreed to plead guilty for the theft of bitcoin that once belonged to Silk Road and to two other charges: money laundering and obstruction of justice.

“Mr. Bridges has regretted his actions from the very beginning," Bridges’ lawyer, Steve Hale Levin said. "His decision to plead guilty reflects his complete acceptance of responsibility and is another step towards rehabilitation.”

Back in March, however, Bridges and Levin strongly denied the accusations.“Mr. Bridges, a former law enforcement officer with an unblemished record, maintains his innocence. He will fight the charges in the appropriate place at the appropriate time,” Levin said at the time.

The hearing date of the other agent behind the theft of bitcoin from Silk Road has been rescheduled to August, around the same time Bridges is required to submit a plea. Image by Fayerollinson / CC BY-SA 3.0