Federal Agents Accused of Stealing Bitcoins During Silk Road Investigation

 / Updated  / Source: NBC News

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

A pair of former federal agents stole more than $800,000 worth of bitcoins while investigating the underground online black market Silk Road — and one of them allegedly sold information about the investigation to Silk Road members, according to a Department of Justice complaint unsealed on Monday.

The two men were special agents assigned to the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force, which spearheaded the investigation that led to the FBI's shutdown of Silk Road in 2013. The DOJ's complaint alleges Shaun Bridges of the U.S. Secret Service took $800,000 in bitcoins he gained control of during the investigation and put it into a personal account.

Carl Force of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was an undercover agent during the Silk Road investigation, chatting online with the leader the site. Like Bridges, the DOJ alleges, Force put bitcoins received as part of the investigation into his own account. The complaint also accuses him of selling information about the government's investigation to the leader of Silk Road, investing in and working for a bitcoin exchange company while he still worked for the DEA, and directing that company to freeze a customer's account so he could funnel those funds into his personal account. The DOJ also alleges Force sent an unauthorized DOJ subpoena to an online payment service so the company would unfreeze his personal account.

The DOJ charged Bridges with wire fraud and money laundering. Force faces the same charges, plus theft of government property and conflict of interest.

IN-DEPTH

-- Julianne Pepitone

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news