One of the key features of Bitcoins are their inherent lack of oversight. Transactions occur between parties without confirmation from a bank or other third party. This apparent anonymity can make them appealing for use in criminal activity. They are not, however completely untraceable, as a former Secret Service agent is now aware. While the 2013 sting that closed down the Silk Road took a down a major source of illegal drugs on the internet, the sting itself led to it's own illegal activity. One of two federal agents who were charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of dirty money, all of it in bitcoin, is about to plead guilty.
Shaun Bridges worked for the US Secret Service in computer forensics as part of a Baltimore-based task force when they arrested Curtis Green, an administrator for the Silk Road, a deep web marketplace focused on the illegal drug market. Bridges then took passwords obtained from Green and allegedly used them to funnel $820,000 worth of bitcoins out of the accounts of Silk Road drug dealers, and into his own.
Speaking with Bloomberg News, Bridges attorney, Steve Hale Levin stated, “Mr. Bridges has regretted his actions from the very beginning...his decision to plead guilty reflects his complete acceptance of responsibility and is another step towards rehabilitation.” Bridges is expected to plead guilty to money laundering and obstruction of justice in a court proceeding at the end of August.
Charges are still pending against Carl Force, a DEA agent who is charged with attempting to extort Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht who was arrested as part of the sting operation and was convicted last month of drug trafficking. A charge of murder-for-hire, stemming from Bridges' theft, is still outstanding against Ulbricht.
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