Ex-U.S. agent gets nearly six years in Bitcoin theft

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2015 5:09 PM

By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A former U.S. Secret Service agent received a 71-month prison sentence on Monday for diverting to his personal account over $800,000 worth of bitcoins during an investigation into online drug marketplace Silk Road, a Justice Department spokesman said.

Shaun Bridges admitted to money laundering and obstruction of justice in San Francisco earlier this year. U.S. prosecutors had asked for a 71-month sentence, while attorneys for Bridges sought a 36-month term, according to court filings.

Justice Department spokesman Abraham Simmons said the judge called Bridges' conduct "reprehensible."

Steven Levin, an attorney for Bridges, said Bridges is relieved to have the sentencing hearing behind him.

"He looks forward to serving as a productive member of society," Levin said.

Silk Road operated for more than two years until it was shut down in October 2013, generating more than $214 million in sales of drugs and other illicit goods using bitcoins, prosecutors said.

Ross Ulbricht, Silk Road's creator, who authorities say used the alias "Dread Pirate Roberts," was sentenced to life in prison in May after a federal jury in Manhattan found him guilty of several charges, including distributing drugs through the Internet.

Last week, a Canadian man was arrested in Thailand for his alleged role as a senior adviser to Ulbricht.

Bridges belonged to a Baltimore-based federal task force that investigated Silk Road. He has admitted that his Bitcoin theft made Ulbricht believe that another individual was stealing from Silk Road and helped lead Ulbricht to try to hire someone to kill that person.

Another member of Bridges' unit, former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Carl Force, also received a 78-month prison term in October after admitting to extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Bernard Orr)