Posted by: Allen Hoffmann, JD
June 23, 2015
Take this in for a second, and it sounds even more insane than a particularly bad pulp novel; a serving Secret Service agent (you know, the guys whose job it is to protect the President) establishes a front company with an improbable sounding name, and an investment banking account to help launder ill gotten cash he stole from a criminal. The theft is blamed on someone else, a patsy (who, unbeknownst to anyone, is actually in police custody), and the “big boss“ in charge of it all ordered his patsy executed… but the guy the big boss asked to hit the patsy is also actually an undercover cop, who proceeds to help stage the murder for the big boss’ benefit, and the whole sordid tale becomes a part of how the big boss is such an evil guy as far as LE’s evidence goes. While you’re at it, get the undercover to ask the big boss how you can get that money you stole back nice and clean. It really defies belief, doesn’t it?
Stretching credibility or not, however, as has been seen time and again, truth is stranger than fiction, especially when you go about following the twists and turns of the Silk Road Saga (turns out the big boss was an Eagle Scout), and here we are – a couple of dirty feds stealing dirty money and blaming it on somebody else, and using their illicit conduct to help build a prosecution.
Surprise, surprise… one of the two federal agents alleged to have engaged in wholesale theft from SR1 who we’ve previously covered, Shaun Bridges, a (now very former) special agent attached to the US Secret Service, has decided he’s going to cop a plea, which is probably not surprising, seeing as how the investigation showed that he was a complete and utter amateur when it came to moving Bitcoin around.
How did this all come about? Bridges was a Secret Service Special Agent who specialized in computer forensics, and happened to land on the Baltimore “Marco Polo” taskforce, with colleague Carl Force of the DEA, and apparently decided that with all this money flying around, no one would notice if they stole some. Amusingly enough, Bridges was regarded as the taskforce’s subject matter expert in relation to Bitcoin. Whilst Force is still up on charges, it was alleged in a sealed criminal complaint made back in March of this year that upon federal LE acquiring control of an admin account on SR (namely, that of “Chronicpain/Flush”), accounts on SR had their passwords changed, allowing access to those accounts and the draining of the BTC wallets. Quite an amazing coincidence as regards timing, I’m sure everyone will agree. From there, the BTC was shifted to an SR user account, “Number13”, which it appears that Bridges and Force commandeered for the purpose of liquidating the stolen BTC.
Bridges set up an LLC called “Quantum International Investments, LLC”, with, it would seem, the sole intention of using it to launder ill gotten gains, and then used that LLC to open an account with Fidelity Investments in late February of 2013, and about two weeks later, in early March of 2013, Bridges’ Quantum Fidelity account received the first of nine wire transfers from Mt. Gox totaling approximately 820,000 USD. His last wire, on May 7, 2013, was a whole two days before Bridges, acting in his capacity as a federal law enforcement officer, served as the affiant on a warrant seizing $2.1 million from Mt. Gox for acting as a money services business without a license. When the FBI interviewed Bridges in relation to an investigation into misconduct on the taskforce, he then made the brilliant move of shifting a quarter of a million dollars out to an account in his name and that of another party.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating; the (faked) murder for hire on SR mod “Chronicpain/Flush”, who we now know to be Curtis Green, would never have been set in train at all, had this corrupt agent not engaged in major thefts, effectively pinning them on Curtis Green. The thefts perpetrated by Bridges (and allegedly, his buddy Carl Force) gave DPR the impetus to apparently order the murder of “Flush”; the early days of the SR prosecution placed heavy emphasis on the murder for hire issues. If that’s not enough, Bridges texts his buddy Force and tries to get him to clarify with DPR the best method to launder the money they’ve just stolen from his site. I couldn’t have made this up if I tried.
By arrogance or stupidity, whichever way you look at it, the scheming of Bridges and Force was doomed to fail from the outset, it would seem. The courts were hard on Ross Ulbricht when sentencing him for his role in establishing and running Silk Road. Bridges has copped to at least some of the conduct alleged against him; the means by which the allegations against Force will be resolved remain unclear at this stage. One has to wonder, when Bridges is sentenced, and when his co-conspirator Force has his day in court and faces a judge, either for trial or to cop a plea, whether the courts will take a commensurately hard line against the disgraceful conduct of those sworn to uphold the law, who used their expertise and inside knowledge to attempt to rob and steal with impunity, and whose conduct could, in different circumstances, have seen an innocent man brutally executed.