- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A former Secret Service agent currently serving time for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of digital currency has pleaded guilty to new charges related to the theft of millions more.

Shaun Bridges, 35, pleaded guilty in San Francisco federal court to one count of money laundering Tuesday in connection with the government’s investigation into Silk Road, an online marketplace that offered drugs and other contraband prior to being seized by the feds in 2013.

Bridges was a member of Baltimore Silk Road Task Force that helped shutter the website and is credited with aiding in the apprehension of Ross Ulbricht, a Texas man subsequently convicted of operating Silk Road and sentenced to life in prison.

He hardly kept his hands clean while conducting that probe, however, and pleaded guilty in 2015 to counts of money laundering and obstruction of justice after being caught stealing over $800,000 worth of bitcoin, a digital cryptocurrency, from various Silk Road accounts.

Bridges was sentenced in December 2015 to 71 months in federal prison, but he was re-arrested by authorities before he even began serving time.

“Prior to reporting to prison to begin serving his sentence for the 2015 conviction, Bridges was arrested and taken into custody on new charges related to another theft of approximately 1,600 bitcoin, valued at the time of the theft at approximately $359,005, (approximately $6.6 million today) from a digital wallet belonging to the U.S. government,” the Justice Department said in a press release Tuesday.

“According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea in this case, Bridges admitted to using a private key to access a digital wallet belonging to the U.S. government, and subsequently transferring the bitcoin to other digital wallets at other bitcoin exchanges to which only he had access,” the Justice Department said.

Bridges was formally charged with the latest laundering count Monday evening and pleaded guilty Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg, Ars Technica first reported.

“He walked out with, among other things, a private key in order to be able to access a digital wallet containing approximately 1,606 bitcoin,” Assistant U.S. Attorney William Frentzen said at Tuesday’s sentencing, Ars reported.

Bridges faces a maximum sentence of an additional 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced Nov. 7, Ars reported.

Silk Road facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars worth of illegal drug deals and other transactions before being seized in October 2013. Last month, meanwhile, authorities took down a similar marketplace, AlphaBay, described by prosecutors as 10 times the size of Silk Road.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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