Former Secret Service agent admits $820K Silk Road theft

The agent, Shaun W. Bridges, investigated the Silk Road online marketplace

A former Secret Service agent admitted Monday to stealing US$820,000 worth of bitcoins from Silk Road vendors during the investigation of the online contraband market.

Shaun W. Bridges, 32, of Laurel, Maryland, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to money laundering and obstruction of justice. He is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 7, according to prosecutors.

Bridges was one of two federal investigators charged with crimes committed during the probe of the Silk Road, which was shut down in October 2013.

The revelation of corrupt federal agents added a surprising twist to the Silk Road story and forms part of the basis for the appeal of Ross Ulbricht, who was accused of being the site's operator.

Ulbricht was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences and 40 years.

Bridges, a six-year special agent in the Baltimore Field Office, admitting using a Silk Road administrator account to move 20,000 bitcoins into his own account around January 2013.

The bitcoins later increased in value that year, and Bridges cashed out, moving $820,000 into his own personal investment accounts in the U.S., prosecutors alleged.

The other corrupt investigator, former DEA agent Carl Mark Force IV, pleaded guilty in July to money laundering, obstruction of justice and extortion under color of official right.

Force, 46, of Baltimore, allegedly froze an account of a Silk Road user and transferred the $297,000 into his own personal account. He could face up to 20 years in prison on each of the charges when he is sentenced on Oct. 19.

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