Shaun Bridges, the second of the two former US agents accused of stealing cryptocurrency during the investigation of the Silk Road marketplace, will plead guilty to wire fraud and money laundering.
Bridges was part of the Baltimore Silk Road task force that searched for evidence against Ross Ulbricht. The operator of the online black market was arrested in February and was founded guilty of computer hacking, drug trading and money laundering. Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison last month.
The prosecutors stated that before its closure in October 2013 Silk Road generated more than $214 million from sales of narcotics and other illicit goods.
Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Carl Force, who was also involved in the investigation process, is now facing criminal charges as well. Force was accused of wire fraud, theft of government property and conflict of interest.
According to San Francisco federal court documents, Force under the alias “French Maid” secretly negotiated with Ulbricht and sold information about the investigation process in exchange for nearly $98,000 in bitcoins. The filings say he moved over $400,000 in digital currency to his own bank accounts.
Force allegedly used money to repay a $22,000 government loan, to pay off his mortgage and sent $235,000 to an offshore account in Panama. Besides, he invested tens of thousands of dollars in real estate and stocks.
Meantime, Bridges channeled to his personal account more than $800,000 in digital currency acquired within the course of the investigation.
After accessing Silk Road systems in 2013, investigators found out, Bridges reset several passwords, which he obtained from the arrested Curtis Green, a Silk Road administrator, and channeled around 20,000 bitcoins from the accounts. The former agent then converted the virtual currency into cash via Japanese bitcoin exchange Mt Gox and transferred money to the shell firm’s investment accounts.
According to the indictment, Bridges asked Force to ask Ulbricht for advice on how to convert digital currency into dollars.
Bridges left his post as an agent at the Secret Service on March 18th, 2015, shortly after he became a subject of the investigation, while Force resigned in May 2014.
Force is expected to face a hearing to enter the guilty pleas on July, 1. Bridges, who is anticipated to be awarded a minimum of 10 years in jail, is due to be sentenced on August 31.
The criminal case against both agents will proceed in the Northern District of California.