Tag Archives: Dread Pirate Roberts

Former Federal Agent Accused Of Silk Road Bitcoin Theft To Plead Guilty

One of the two federal agents who were accused of stealing bitcoin from the Silk Road website while on an assignment to investigate the marketplace has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. On Wednesday, Bridges agreed to plead guilty to money laundering and obstruction of justice.

Shaun Bridges, a former Secret Service agent, had been assigned to a Baltimore task force to use his computer forensics expertise for the purpose of investigating illegal activity on the Silk Road marketplace. During the investigation, Bridges was reportedly given access to a Silk Road account belonging to Curtis Clark Green, a Silk Road employee who became a government witness.

[RELATED: Two Silk Road Investigators Face Massive Fraud Charges]

Bridges then allegedly used Green’s account to steal at least $820,000 in bitcoin during the task force’s investigation. The stolen bitcoins were reportedly moved to the bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox before eventually being transferred to a bank account owned by Bridges. A short time after the alleged theft, Bridges “served as the affiant on a multi-million dollar seizure warrant for Mt. Gox and its owner’s bank accounts.”

Former DEA agent Carl Mark Force, the other agent on the task force charged with bitcoin theft, allegedly went further than Bridges in stealing bitcoins. Force reportedly created fake online profiles on Silk Road for the purpose of extorting Dread Pirate Roberts, Silk Road’s mastermind which a jury ultimately determined to be Ross Ulbricht.

[RELATED: Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht Sentenced To Life In Prison]

When DPR found that Green’s account was behind the massive bitcoin theft, he allegedly contacted a Silk Road user named “Nob,” who was later reported to actually be Force using a false name. It has been reported that DPR wanted “Nob” to kill Green. “Nob” agreed to kill Green, and both Force and Bridges faked Green’s death, with Bridges creating fake photos as proof for DPR of the hit on Green.

Ulbricht still faces a murder-for-hire charge in Maryland for this incident.

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

Bridges will submit his plea on August 31st.

To read more coverage of the Silk Road case, click here.


Two Silk Road Investigators Face Massive Fraud Charges

Prosecutors announced on Monday that two former federal agents have been arrested on charges of wire fraud and money laundering stemming from their investigation of the Silk Road online marketplace.

Two former federal agents have been accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars during their investigation of Silk Road, an online marketplace that authorities called “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet.” The two defendants are Carl Force, a former special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Shaun Bridges, a former Secret Service special agent.

Force and Bridges were assigned to a task force based in Baltimore investigating Silk Road. Force was the lead investigator working undercover, and Bridges was a computer forensics expert working on the case.

According to a press release from the Justice Department, Force “served as an undercover agent and was tasked with establishing communications with a target of the investigation, Ross Ulbricht, aka ‘Dread Pirate Roberts.'” Force was authorized to communicate with Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) online to gather information, but he allegedly went on to create several unauthorized, fictitious online identities.

Force allegedly “used fake online personas, and engaged in complex Bitcoin transactions to steal from the government and the targets of the investigation. Specifically, Force allegedly solicited and received digital currency as part of the investigation, but failed to report his receipt of the funds, and instead transferred the currency to his personal account. In one such transaction, Force allegedly sold information about the government’s investigation to the target of the investigation,” stated the press release. According to Forbes, Force deposited money amounting to three times his government salary into his bank account between 2012 and 2013. The Baltimore Sun reports that it was found by IRS investigators that Force made about $775,000 in that 2-year period, and used the money to pay off a loan and his mortgage, and to make various investments.

Bridges allegedly stole more than $800,000 in digital currency from the Silk Road that fell under under his control during the Baltimore Silk Road investigation. “The complaint alleges that Bridges placed the assets into an account at Mt. Gox, the now-defunct digital currency exchange in Japan. He then allegedly wired funds into one of his personal investment accounts in the United States mere days before he sought a $2.1 million seizure warrant for Mt. Gox’s accounts,” stated the press release.

Force faces charges of wire fraud, theft of government property, money laundering and conflict of interest. Bridges faces charges of wire fraud and money laundering.

Force and Bridges were investigated about nine months before the trial for Ross Ulbricht began. Force reportedly became aware of the investigation in May 2014 and resigned.

Ulbricht’s defense team did not know of the investigation into the two former agents until five weeks before Ulbricht’s trial, and the information regarding the alleged actions of Force and Bridges was sealed by prosecutors. “The Government’s efforts to keep the Carl Force scandal out of the public eye at trial is in itself scandalous,” said Joshua Horowitz,a defense attorney for Ulbricht. “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.”

Ulbricht was found guilty in February of all charges relating to the operation of Silk Road. While he faces sentencing on May 15th, he filed a motion for a new trial on March 8th, and his lawyer reportedly believes the scandal surrounding Force and Bridges could help in his motion.

“There was considerable litigation, including a portion of our post-trial motions, that was related to this but has remained sealed,” Joshua Dratel, Ulbricht’s attorney, told Motherboard. “This is an important component of our motion, and will be amplified in our reply now that the charges have been instituted formally.”

The criminal complaint filed against Force and Bridges can be read here.