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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Agent Who Swiped Silk Road Bitcoins Sentenced

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A former DEA agent will spend 6 ½ years in prison for crimes he committed while investigating the online contraband marketplace Silk Road.

Carl M. Force, 46, pleaded guilty in July to extortion, money laundering and obstruction done while he was supposed to be investigating Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht as part of a multiagency government taskforce.

The Justice Department said Force - formerly of the Drug Enforcement Agency's Baltimore office - was supposed to establish contact with the Silk Road leader "Dread Pirate Roberts," later determined to be Ulbricht.

Force instead offered to sell Ulbricht fake IDs and inside information about the investigation. He admitted to receiving $200,000 worth of the digital currency bitcoin from Ulbricht for the information, prosecutors said.

Additionally, Force admitted to using his authority as a DEA agent to freeze $337,000 from a CoinMKT account after the company alerted him to suspicious activity in the account. Force said he then diverted $300,000 of the frozen funds to his personal account.

In addition to 78 months in prison, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg also ordered Force to pay $340,000 in restitution and serve three years of probation after his release.

Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges, 32, also pleaded guilty to swiping $820,000 in bitcoins during his investigation of Silk Road. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in December.

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