The Silk Road saga had a stunning coda in April, when two of the federal agents who investigated the site were charged with stealing from it as well.
One of those two agents has now reached a plea deal with prosecutors. Shaun Bridges, a computer expert for the US Secret Service, is accused of stealing $820,000 in bitcoins from various drug dealers on the site.
“Mr. Bridges has regretted his actions from the very beginning,” Bridges’ lawyer told Bloomberg News. “His decision to plead guilty reflects his complete acceptance of responsibility and is another step towards rehabilitation.”
After Bridges and other agents who were part of a Baltimore-based task force arrested Silk Road admin Curtis Green, they were briefed by Green about how to use admin powers on the site. Prosecutors accuse Bridges of using those admin powers to go into the site and seize control of dealer accounts, draining them of bitcoins and moving them into his own accounts.
It was Bridges’ massive theft that led Silk Road boss Ross Ulbricht, who operated online as Dread Pirate Roberts, to contract a murder-for-hire against Green, who he believed had perpetrated the theft. That resulted in a murder-for-hire charge against Ulbricht, which is still pending.
After a three-week jury trial, Ulbricht was convicted of drug trafficking charges in addition to charges related to money laundering, distributing a fake ID, and distributing computer hacking tools. Last month he was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
Accusations against a second Baltimore agent, Carl Force, have not been settled. Force is accused of trying to extort Ulbricht, and then later using a separate identity to offer to sell him law enforcement “counter-intelligence” information. Force is in custody and scheduled to appear in court in August.
Bridges will formally enter his guilty plea in late August or early September.