Former Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges has pleaded guilty to new charges related to a Bitcoin heist amounting to 1606 BTC (roughly $6.5 million USD).
Previously in late 2015, Bridges had been sentenced to approximately six years in prison for his own illegal activities during the FBI investigations leading to the closure of the Silk Road and the life imprisonment of its founder, Ross Ulbricht.
The 35-year-old former Secret Service agent went rogue in 2013 together with former DEA agent Carl Mark Force IV, who was also arrested and indicted on charges related to Bitcoin theft.
Force was sentenced to six and a half years in federal prison despite the defense’s later pleas to shorten his sentence to four years.
In addition to his 78-month sentence, he was ordered by the court to pay restitution fees to a former Silk Road employee, Curtis Green, amounting to $3,000, and an additional $337,000 to a party only identified as “RP.”
Former Silk Road Investigator in a Tough Predicament
Things became worse for Bridges when he was rearrested in January 2016 after he was caught trying to flee the country a day before he was scheduled to start his sentence at a Baltimore prison.
According to court filings from prosecutors in the Northern District of California, Bridges’ getaway bag contained a cellphone, his passport, foreign citizenship application documents that appeared to be his wife’s, corporate documents for offshore entities in Nevis, Mauritius and Belize, a MacBook computer that had its serial numbers scratched off, and bulletproof vests as well.
After this brazen attempt to flee the country, all hopes for clemency flew out the window.
The surfacing of CCTV footage that captures Bridges leaving a Secret Service field office holding onto a large bag, which allegedly contained hard drives holding the keys to his Bitstamp wallet.
The disgraced former government official was charged with new counts of money laundering, which he gracefully pleaded guilty to.
Illicit Bitcoin Exchange Shut Down
According to the new court filings, Bridges transferred funds from the BTC-e account to various online Bitcoin wallets in a bid to cover his tracks.
Coincidentally, the Bitcoin exchange was under investigation for its unscrupulous business model which allowed cyber criminals and ransomware artists to exchange their loot on the platform.
Later, a man of Russian descent, Alexander Vinnik, was arrested and charged with several counts of money laundering (an amount totaling to $4 billion) in connection with the illegitimate Bitcoin exchange, which was promptly shut down.
Bitcoin Laundering Scandal Attracts Criticism
The case of Bridges and Force is one that has attracted criticism from all corners.
Some believe the two rogue government officials knew what they were getting into and rightly suffered full retributions for their actions.
This sentiment was echoed by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg who stated that the uncouth conduct of the two agents was an acute betrayal of the public trust, likely fueled by greed in anticipation for a book and movie deal.
Bridges Could Get Additional Years and Fines
In total, 19 Bitcoin transactions have been captured in the recent court documents, one of which documents the deposit of roughly 605 BTC on Bitfinex in November 2015.
Bridges, who was being held at the Alameda County Jail at the time of his sentencing, appeared defeated while he calmly acknowledged his acceptance of the plea deal and responded to the judge’s queries as well.
Shaun Bridges could get an additional 10 years in prison on top of his 71-month prison sentence and pay as much as $250,000 in fines if convicted.
His sentencing has been scheduled for November 7, 2017.