- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A former Secret Service agent who was investigating the online drug trafficking website Silk Road has pleaded guilty to charges related to the theft of electronic currency from users of the site.

Shaun Bridges, 32, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in San Francisco to charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice. The six-year Secret Service veteran had been assigned to a federal task force investigating the Silk Road, and used his knowledge of the site to rake in a profit as his colleagues worked to dismantle the site.

According to prosecutors, Bridges used administrator passwords obtained through the investigation to lock other users out of their Silk Road accounts and take possession of their electronic currency. He moved 20,000 bitcoins, an anonymous digital currency used on the site, to an account he controlled. He later deposited the electronic currency into a digital currency exchange and liquidated the bitcoins for $820,000.

“We depend on those in federal law enforcement having the highest integrity and unshakeable honor, and Mr. Bridges has demonstrated that he utterly lacks those qualities,” said Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.

The FBI shut down Silk Road, one of the largest and most notorious online drug bazaars on the dark web, in 2013 and arrested its creator Ross Ulbricht. The site was used as a black market for the sale of illegal items such as illicit drugs and required users to conduct business in bitcoin.

Bridges is the second federal agent involved in the Silk Road operation to admit to stealing money from the website while involved in the investigation. Former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Carl Force, 46 pleaded guilty in July to similar charges.

Bridges will be sentenced in the case in December.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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