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US agent pleads guilty to Bitcoin thefts

September 1, 2015

A former US Secret Service agent is the latest to admit to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the digital currency Bitcoin. Thefts were from the now defunct Silk Road online drug bazaar.

Symbolbild Bitcoins
Image: Reuters

Former US agent Shaun Bridges, 33, pleaded guilty Monday to money laundering and obstruction of justice charges in a federal courtroom in San Francisco.

While an agent for the US Secret Service, Bridges admitted to diverting about $820,000 (730,500 euro) in funds to his personal account during a multi-agent investigation into the Silk Road online bazaar.

The black market trading site Silk Road was shut down in October 2013 after generating more than $200 million in sales. In May, Silk Road's founder Ross Ulbricht, was sentenced to life in prison for charges that included distributing drugs on the internet.

Bridges had belonged to a Baltimore-based federal task force that investigated Silk Road. Another member of that unit, former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Carl Force, 46, admitted to charges of extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice in July. He faces 20 years in prison for attempting to steal more than $700,000 in Bitcoin.

US District Court Judge Richard Seeborg said he would impose a curfew and electronic monitoring on Bridges after prosecutors said the former agent had tried to change his name.

An attorney for Ulbricht says the charges of US agents connected to the Silk Road investigation show clear evidence that the criminal case had been tainted by corruption. Ulbricht is currently serving his sentence in a US prison.

jar/jm (AP, Reuters)