- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A disgraced former Secret Service agent already serving time for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of digital currency from the federal government has been sentenced to spend an additional two years in prison for a separate heist.

Shaun Bridges, 35, was sentenced Tuesday in connection with stealing from a digital wallet belonging to the government currently valued at about $11.3 million.

Bridges had been a member of the federal task force that investigated Silk Road, an online marketplace responsible for facilitating hundreds of millions of dollars worth of illegal drug deals prior to being dismantled by U.S. authorities in late 2013. He later admitted stealing approximately 20,000 Bitcoin from its users during the government’s probe and was sentenced in December 2015 to 71 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to related counts of money laundering and obstruction of justice.

Bridges was a day away from starting his prison sentence when he was arrested again in January 2016 and charged in a separate heist involving about 1,600 Bitcoin stolen from a digital wallet belonging to the U.S. government. He subsequently pleaded guilty to another count of money laundering in August, paving the way for Tuesday’s sentencing hearing in San Francisco federal court.

“According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, 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 in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg called the former federal agent’s conduct a “betrayal of trust” and “among the worst of crimes,” Ars Technica first reported from court.

“Particularly troubling is the fact that Mr. Bridges did engage in further efforts to conceal a need to steal after he had entered the plea agreement,” the judge said.

Bridges had faced up to 10 years in prison over the second heist, and defense attorneys had argued for only one to be served after his current sentence, Ars reported.

A prosecutor for the federal government decline to comment for the Ars report, and a defense lawyer declined to comment, according to Reuters.

Bridges agreed to surrender the stolen Bitcoin as part of his plea agreement, said the Justice Department. Valued at about $359,005 at the time of his arrest in early 2016, the 1,500 Bitcoin turned over as part of Bridges’ latest plea were worth roughly $11.3 million as of Tuesday’s sentencing.

Silk Road acted as an online marketplace where users could buy and sell contraband with digital currency including Bitcoin before being seized in October 2013, at which point it had already generated over $214 million in illicit sales, according to federal prosectors. Ross Ulbricht, the man convicted of running the site, was subsequently convicted of related charges and is currently serving life imprisonment without parole.

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

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