A former Secret Service agent involved in the investigation against the Silk Road online marketplace has pleaded guilty in federal court to pilfering nearly a million dollars’ worth of bitcoin during the investigation. Shaun Bridges, a six-year veteran of the Secret Service, this week entered a plea agreement in the Northern District of California, admitting to stealing 20,000 bitcoins in January 2013, while working on the case against Silk Road as part of the agency’s Electronic Crimes Task Force. He accessed the currency by using a site administrator’s account to change users’ passwords and steal their bitcoins. Bridges then deposited the bitcoins into an account with digital currency exchange Mt. Gox and, over the course of the next three months, exchanged the bitcoins for $820,000, which was deposited into personal investment accounts. Bridges pled guilty to charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice and will be sentenced in December. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Bridges is the second federal agent to plead guilty in connection with illegal activities during the Silk Road investigation. In July of this year former DEA special agenct Carl Force admitted to stealing more than $700,000 worth of bitcoins during the investigation. Force is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
Federal authorities shut down the Silk Road online marketplace in October 2013, after an undercover investigation revealed widespread illegal activities taking place through the site, including the sale of drugs and money laundering. In May, site founder Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of money laundering, computer hacking and conspiracy to traffic narcotics.