This post continues the coverage of worlds far away I’ll never visit.
It is also in the you can’t make this stuff up category.
I previously discussed a federal DEA agent investigating Silk Road who allegedly got $100K from Dread Pirate Roberts for information about the investigation the agent was conducting and allegedly stole $297K from a customer of a bitcoin dealer. He allegedly invested in and was allegedly working for that company as their compliance officer.
Well, we can now drop the alleged and change it to confessed.
Oh, he had a movie deal too.
I will describe a few tidbits from news reports and then go deeper into the plea agreement.
7/1 –Arstechnica – Corrupt Silk Road investigator pleads guilty, admits to $240K movie deal – The agent appeared in court on July 1 to enter a guilty plea on extortion, money laundering, and obstruction of justice charges. He admitted that he took $370K from a customer’s account and only turned over $37K to the government. (Article has an incorrect amount. Should be $337K stolen from the innocent customer, $37K turned over to the government, with the agent stealing net of $300K.)
Also revealed in court is the agent had a $240K contract with 20th Century Fox for his story which is going into a movie about Silk Road. It is not clear whether he has been paid anything yet or not.
Sentencing will be in October. He has agreed to repay $500K in restitution.
The Secret Service agent who is alleged to have separately stole $820K of bitcoins has reportedly agreed to plead guilty.
Seriously, I’m not making this up.
I’m not that creative.
A Forbes article gives more details: Corrupt DEA Agent Pleads Guilty To Extorting Bitcoins From Silk Road Creator Ross Ulbricht. He took about $100,000 from Mr. Ulbricht in each of two separate incidences and netted $300,000 theft from a private account. For no legitimate reason at all he froze a person’s account, seized it, and stole $300K.
That is how the restitution gets to $500,000.
The Forbes article points to the plea agreement here.
The agent plead guilty to three counts. The agreement, as usual, is rather heavy-handed and includes explicit statements which appear to be the specific elements of sundry felonies.
There are multiple explicit references to contact having been made by phone, video link, or electronic mail from him while he was in Maryland to another person (Dread Pirate Roberts or FBI agents interviewing him at different times) who was physically in another state. Those comments seem weird until you realize those are explicit confessions to the elements of wire fraud.
Maximum sentence for each count is 20 years. Maximum fine for each count is $250K or double the gross gain.
The agent agreed to a $500,000 restitution. Payment will start with $290,544 in five specific bank accounts. He will also turn over 683 Bitcoins in six different wallets plus another 200 bitcoins previously seized.
Something I’ve not seen before (but then I don’t spend a lot of time reading plea agreements even though it seems like that may be the case), is that the signed plea deal shows agreement between the prosecutors and the agent as to the adjusted offense level for each of the counts. For count one it is 24 or 26, depending on how one variable is resolved. For count two it is 18 and for count three the agreed level is 27.
Wikipedia has a great article on United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The article has the full sentencing guidelines. To get to a recommended sentence, you determine the criminal history category, calculate an adjusted offense level, and look up the two results in the table.
If I understand the criminal history category correctly, I’m guessing the agent would be in category I.
Combining that history level with those negotiated adjusted offense levels shows the following as sentencing guideline:
- 46-57 months – assumed 24 – count 1
- 27-33 months – level 18 – count 2
- 70-87 months – level 27 – count 3
The high range would be something in the range of six or seven years.
A fine for level 27 offense would be a minimum of $12,500 and a maximum of $125,000.
I don’t know if these sentences would all be concurrent or it would be the largest one plus some fraction of a small one in some variation of consecutive. Or perhaps they will be consecutive. I will watch sentencing for my learning.
An idea for my first novel
Hmm. If I want to write a best-seller novel someday, maybe I could just weave together a bunch of these weird stories I read and post about.
How’s this sound? A dirty space cop extorts dark net operators hosted on asteroid mining spaceships that are selling codes to 3D print human organs and customized synthetic dope that have been banned by all terrestrial governments.
Nah. That’ll never work. Too much like yesterday’s headlines.