Shaun Bridges, a former Secret Service agent who stole more than $800,000 worth of bitcoins during the investigation into darknet marketplace Silk Road, has been sentenced to 71 months in prison. In June, Bridges pleaded guilty to siphoning off the bitcoins from Silk Road before moving them an account on Mt. Gox.
At the sentencing in San Francisco, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg called the theft “an extremely serious crime consisting of the betrayal of public trust from a public official” and concluded that “a high-end sentence” was warranted, according to Ars Technica. Prosecutors had sought a “high-end Guidelines’ sentence of 71 months’” before the sentencing, citing Bridges’ “egregious conduct and flagrant abuse of his authority.”
During the sentencing, the court heard testimony from several witnesses, including former Silk Road administrator Curtis Green. While stealing the bitcoins in 2013, Bridges attempted to cover his tracks by transferring the bitcoins to Green’s account. At the time, Green was working with Bridges and other government authorities as an informant.
As reported by Ars Technica, Green testified that Bridges gained the information he needed to pull off the bitcoin heist in the course of the investigation. “Mr. Bridges kept asking me how to get in and asking specifically how to change the password,” explained Green. “Later on, right before he left to go move the bitcoins, he asked me to show him one more time to make sure that he knew exactly … he set me up to take the fall.”
As a result, Ross Ulbricht allegedly put a hit out on Green although that charge was later dropped and Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison simply for his role in operating Silk Road.
Prosecutors also argued that Bridges’ misconduct compromised several other bitcoin-related investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Haun told the court that “the number of cases that Mr. Bridges contaminated – as well as investigations across the country that his conduct led to have to be shut down – is startling.” Bridges’ actions apparently led authorities to end an investigation into Mt. Gox.
Bridges is not the only member of the Silk Road investigation team to be convicted of stealing bitcoins. In October, Drug Enforcement Administration agent Carl Force was sentenced to 78 months in prison for money laundering, extortion and obstruction of justice.
Bridges’ sentencing is just the latest event in an investigation that has been full of bizarre developments. Bridges will begin his prison sentence on January 29, 2016.
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