Corrupt DEA Agent Pleads Guilty to Bitcoin Theft in Silk Road Probe

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by Eugenia Romanenko · 3 min read
Corrupt DEA Agent Pleads Guilty to Bitcoin Theft in Silk Road Probe
Photo: James Robinson/Flickr

On Wednesday, Carl Mark Force, a former DEA agent, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice during the two years he spent investigating the drug-dealing website Silk Road.

Carl Mark Force IV, 46, a former undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent and investigator communicating with Ross Ulbricht, the Silk Road mastermind, has pleaded guilty on charges of stealing more than $700,000 in bitcoin.

“While investigating the Silk Road, former DEA Agent Carl Force crossed the line from enforcing the law to breaking it,” Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in a statement.  “Seduced by the perceived anonymity of virtual currency and the dark web, Force used invented online personas and encrypted messaging to fraudulently obtain bitcoin worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from the government and investigative targets alike.”

“He had a stellar 15-year career with the DEA except for this one blip,” Force’s attorney, Ivan Bates, said outside court.

Using his official undercover moniker “Nob”, Force offered Ulbricht fake driver’s licenses and inside information about the Silk Road investigation in exchange for 925 Bitcoin (worth approximately $100,000), reads Forbes.  However, Force didn’t turn the money over to the government. Instead of it, he transferred it to a personal bank. According to Force, using a second persona ”French Maid”, he received $100,000 in Bitcoin from Ulbricht in exchange for information about the Silk Road investigation.

Moreover, Force admitted to have invested $110,000 in Bitcoin in CoinMKT. In that period he worked as the digital exchange’s Chief Compliance Officer without DEA approval.

“During the time that I devised and carried out this fraud and money laundering scheme, I was a Special Agent with the DEA and a member of the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force — which was actively engaged in investigating Silk Road, its vendors and buyers, and [Ulbricht],” Force wrote in his plea deal.

“As a DEA Special Agent, I held a position of public trust and I abused that position. I further agree that my activities obstructed, influenced, and impeded the Baltimore Grand Jury related to its Silk Road investigation as well as its resulting case in the District of Maryland against [Ulbricht].”

The  investigation into Force was started in May 2014, eight months before Ulbricht’s trial began. He was  arrested on March 30.

“The Government’s efforts to keep the Carl Force scandal out of the public eye at trial is in itself scandalous,” said Joshua Horowitz, one of Ulbricht’s defense attorneys told Forbes contributor Sarah Jeong. “The recently filed Complaint which names Carl Force as a defendant demonstrates that the Government’s investigation of Mr. Ulbricht lacked integrity, and was wholly and fatally compromised from the inside.”

Carl Mark Force is going to be sentenced on October 19. The former DEA agent could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

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