Second federal agent pleads guilty to stealing bitcoins from Silk Road

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Two federal law enforcement officers have now entered guilty pleas to charges they stole bitcoins from the Silk Road site while they were part of the investigation of the site.

Other articles on Silk Road and the we-don’t-have-to-say-allegedly corrupt federal agents can be seen on the tag worlds far away I will never visit.

The Department of Justice announced the second agent’s plea on August 31: Former Secret Service Agent Pleads Guilty To Money Laundering And Obstruction.

DoJ said the agent pled guilty to the two felony charges brought against him:

On June 16, 2015, Bridges was charged by information with money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956, and obstruction of justice, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512.  In today’s plea agreement, Bridges pleaded guilty to both charges.

The two guilty pleas will have “enhancements”, which I think will increase the severity of the sentence. The announcement continues:

In connection with his guilty plea, Bridges acknowledged his actions compromised a District of Maryland grand jury investigation into Ulbricht and the Silk Road. Bridges also acknowledged he made multiple false and misleading statements to both prosecutors and investigators in connection with an investigation being conducted by a San Francisco grand jury.  In addition, Bridges tried to get other government employees to tell false stories to prosecutors and investigators.  In his agreement with the government, Bridges agreed his sentence for money laundering will include enhancements for abuse of trust and obstruction of justice.

A brief summary of his scheme is provided in the announcement, which I quote freely since it is a public document:

In the plea agreement filed today, Bridges admitted he used an administrator account to reset passwords and pins of various accounts on the Silk Road.  This enabled Bridges to move bitcoin into a “wallet” he controlled and which he used to fraudulently move and steal approximately 20,000 bitcoin from Silk Road accounts.  At the time Bridges stole the bitcoin in January 2013, 20,000 bitcoin would have been worth approximately $350,000.  Shortly after Bridges stole the bitcoin, he moved it into an account at Mt. Gox, an online digital currency exchange based in Japan.  Between March and May of 2013, he liquidated the bitcoin into $820,000 of U.S. currency and had the funds transferred to the United States to a personal investment account at Fidelity.  He owned the Fidelity account under the name of Quantum International Investments, LLC.  Later, in June 2014, Bridges transferred money from the Quantum Fidelity account into a personal bank account that he shared with another person.

Short version: he took over the count of an administrator when the administrator was busted, stole Bitcoins worth $350K from customers which appreciated to $820K by the time he converted them to cash.

The feds claim he is getting ready to run, according to the Ars Technica article, Secret Service agent pleads guilty to stealing money from Silk Road dealers.

In court when the plea was entered, federal prosecutors told they judge they had information indicating the agent was trying to change his first and last name. They assert he is a flight risk and wanted him taken into intermediate custody. The judge declined. Sentencing is scheduled for December 7, 2015, so he will be free for another three months.

Seems to me there is a measurable chance that he took over accounts of other people who have not yet been identified. If that’s the case he could possibly, just maybe, have enough money stashed away to make flight worthwhile. If you had several hundred grand parked somewhere and were facing 10 or 25 years in prison, you would be thinking of getting outta’ Dodge. I would imagine there is a reasonable chance he knows how to create a false identity.

I’ll keep my ears open for the sentencing of both of the now confessed crooks.

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