Federal Agent Pleads Guilty To Obstruction And Money Laundering In Silk Road Case

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U.S. Secret Service special agent Shaun W. Bridges of Laurel, Maryland, pleaded guilty today before the U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California to obstruction and money laundering that occurred during the Silk Road case. He will be sentenced on December 7, 2015.

“Mr. Bridges has now admitted that he brazenly stole $820,000 worth of digital currency while working as a U.S. Secret Service special agent, a move that completely violated the public’s trust,” said U.S. Attorney Haag in a release. “We depend on those in federal law enforcement having the highest integrity and unshakeable honor, and Mr. Bridges has demonstrated that he utterly lacks those qualities. We appreciate the hard work of our federal partners that went into bringing Mr. Bridges to justice.”

Bridges conducted forensic computer investigations during the effort to identify the owner of the original Silk Road underground marketplace, allegedly a programmer named Ross Ulbricht.

In January 2013 Bridges use the service to move approximately 20,000 bitcoin or $350,000 to his own accounts.

From the release:

Bridges admitted that he moved the stolen bitcoin into an account at Mt. Gox, an online digital currency exchange based in Japan. According to his admissions, he liquidated the bitcoin into $820,000 of U.S. currency between March and May 2013, and had the funds transferred to personal investment accounts in the United States.

Bridges’ plea agreement also established that he obstructed the Baltimore federal grand jury’s investigations of Silk Road and Ulbricht in a number of ways, including by impeding the ability of the investigation to fully utilize a cooperator’s access to Silk Road. In addition, Bridges admitted that he made multiple false and misleading statements to investigators in connection with the San Francisco federal grand jury’s investigation into his own illegal acts, and that he encouraged another government employee to lie to investigators.

Another special agent, Carl M. Force, also plead guilty to theft of $700,000 in digital currency. He will be sentenced in October.