A former U.S. secret service agent stole more than $800,000 of bitcoin money by laundering money online on illegal goods and drug marketplace, Silk Road.
Shaun Bridges, 33, appeared in a San Francisco federal court and pleaded guilty to money laundering. He also admitted to charges of obstruction of justice.
Bridges was part of a Baltimore-based task force of federal agents who were actively involved in investigating Silk Road.
Silk Road ran its operations for over two years until its shutting down in October 2013. The website generated a revenue of over $214 million from selling illegal goods and drugs through bitcoin money.
The creator of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, received a sentence of life imprisonment after pleading guilty to selling illegal goods and drugs online. His online avatar went by the alias Dread Pirate Roberts.
One of Ulbricht’s attorneys commented that the charges make the corruption pervading Silk Road more implicit than ever.
Another agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Carl Force, also pleaded guilty to money laundering, obstruction of justice, and extortion during the Silk Road case.
While investigating Silk Road, Force stole an enormous amount of bitcoins and converted them for personal use. Instead of turning the money in to the government, Force decided to use it for personal gains.
Bridges, a computer forensics expert, on the other hand, gained access to over $800,000 worth of digital currency during the Silk Road investigations. He transferred the funds to his own personal account.
Force had worked with the DEA as a special agent for more than 15 years. Bridges had worked with the Secret Service for almost six years until an abrupt resignation on March 18.
Force, 46, got arrested on Friday in Baltimore. Bridges, on the other hand, surrendered to authorities in San Francisco, but got released on bond.
Silk Road thrived on its ability to retain the anonymity of both buyers and sellers. The website remained under the radar operating in some of the darkest and most difficult to penetrate parts of the internet. The transactions on the website took place through bitcoins, which are as difficult to trace as cash.
These factors allowed Silk Road to operate outside the law and away from the control of law enforcement agents.
Charges against the two agents include abuse of their position and use of their authority for “their own financial enrichment.”
Bridges is relying on his attorney to fight against the charges leveled against him in the Silk Road case.
[Photo By: Spencer Platt/Getty Images News]