A former US Secret Service agent has pleaded guilty to money laundering and obstruction of justice charges stemming from his misconduct during the criminal investigation of Silk Road.
Shaun Bridges agreed to a plea deal after being charged with stealing 20,000 Bitcoin from accounts on the dark web drug market run by Ross Ulbricht under the alias Dread Pirate Roberts.
Bridges had been working on the Silk Road case through the Silk Road Task Force, a multi-agency group that operated out of Baltimore, MD.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said Bridges admitted to using a seized administrator account on Silk Road in order to lift Bitcoin from various accounts and deposit them into his own wallet. He then sold off the Bitcoin on the Mt Gox exchange between March and May of 2013 and came away with $820,000 in cash.
Bridges also admitted to lying to investigators and working to obstruct others who were investigating both Silk Road and his own actions.
Monday's plea decision formalizes a plea agreement Bridges made in June. He will be sentenced on December 7.
"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 US Attorney Melinda Haag.
"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."
The former Secret Service agent is the second government agent to plead guilty to pocketing digital currency during the Silk Road investigation.
Earlier this year, Carl Force, formerly of the Drug Enforcement Administration, pleaded guilty to money laundering charges after he was found to have duped Ross Ulbricht (and others) out of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Bitcoin over the course of the investigation.
Ulbricht himself was eventually found guilty on multiple charges and given a life sentence. His attorneys had cited the cases against Force and Bridges in filing an unsuccessful motion for retrial, but a judge ruled that the former agents' misconduct had no impact on Ulbricht's own guilt or innocence. ®