Civil Liberties

Feds Finally Find Real Crime in Silk Road Case: Its Agents Stealing Bitcoin


Arising from the federal government's multi-pronged investigation into the operation of the darkwebsite Silk Road, used to buy and sell any item, legal or not, today the Justice Department released a criminal complaints against a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and a Secret Service agent for robbing bitcoin while conducting the investigation.

The actual criminal complaint against Carl Force (DEA) and Shaun Bridges (Secret Service).

In it, Force is accused of extorting bitcoin from "Dread Pirate Roberts," the pseudonymous operator of Silk Road, under various fake identities, and keeping bitcoin delivered to him in his capacity as undercover agent rather than turning them over to the government.

He is also accused of working as a compliance officer for a bitcoin exchange called CoinMKT (while still working as a DEA agent) and in that capacity stealing $297,000 worth of bitcoin from a client of CoinMKT. He is also accused of falsely using a supervisor's signature stamp to direct a payments company that had frozen Force's own account for suspicious activity to undo that freeze, while ordering that company to not independently inquire  to the DEA on the matter and trying to bury the paper trail.

Bridges is accused of funding a company he launched called Quantum International Investments with bitcoin from Mt. Gox, in a suspicious set of transactions that the Justice Department seems to believe originated with bitcoin stolen from Silk Road during the course of Bridges' investigation.

New York Times and Washington Post accounts.

My December Reason feature on the federal government's war against Silk Road. In the aftermath of the successful prosecution of Ross Ulbricht for launching the site, I wrote about how that conviction was a blow against justice and safety.