The U.S. Justice Department announced Monday charges against two former federal agents who are accused of stealing Bitcoin during the investigation into Silk Road, reported Reuters.
Shaun Bridges, a special agent with the Secret Service, and Carl Force, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent, were charged in a criminal complaint filed in San Francisco federal court with offenses including money laundering and wire fraud.
Reuters reported that Bridges and Force were part of a Baltimore-based federal task force investigating Silk Road. Authorities said Force had a prominent role in the probe as he was the lead undercover agent in communication with Ross Ulbricht, who was convicted earlier this year with operating the underground drug marketplace.
Prosecutors allege that while Force communicated with Ulbricht using an officially sanctioned alias, he also created unauthorized online aliases to speak with “Dread Pirate Roberts,” Ulbricht’s assumed alias.
According to the criminal complaint, Force allegedly attempted to extort money from Ulbricht, including ones trying to get $250,000 from him in exchange for not giving information to federal investigators, reported CNN.
Using the alias “French Maid,” Force succeeded in getting $100,000 worth of Bitcoin from Ulbricht, which he deposited in his personal accounts, according to the criminal complaint. Force allegedly later used a series of Bitcoin and personal U.S. dollar transactions, including a $235,000 wire transfer to an account in Panama, to launder the stolen funds.
CNN reported that Force also allegedly used his position as an executive at a digital currency exchange called CoinMKT, in which he was an investor, to seize customer accounts. Prosecutors claim he transferred $297,000 in illegally-seized digital currency to his personal accounts.
According to prosecutors, Bridges allegedly stole $820,000, using a series of wire transfers to move Bitcoin that earlier had been stolen from Silk Road in early 2013 and deposited in Mt. Gox, the now-defunct Japanese Bitcoin exchange. Two days later, Bridges signed the government’s warrant to seize millions of dollars in Bitcoin from Mt. Gox accounts.
CNN reported that according to the complaint, Bridges later transferred $250,000 from his personal account to one he shared with someone else when he learned the FBI was investigating suspicious activity in the Silk Road investigation.