Former US Federal Agent Pleads Guilty to $800,000 Bitcoin Theft
Ross Ulbricht, founder of the infamous Silk Road drug market, will be remembered as one of bitcoin’s most relevant contributors, a man that grew bitcoin’s relevance to extraordinary levels, and became instantly popular following his arrest. Silk Road was a dark net market that ran on the TOR Network. At its peak, Silk Road accounted for 70% of all dark net drug sales. People wondered whether Ulbricht’s arrest was justified; consequently, his prison sentence became controversial as well. In the midst of the controversy it was later discovered that federal agents infiltrated the administration of the Silk Road under fake identities, which led to Ulbricht’s arrest. Additionally, it was uncovered that these agents were responsible of stealing bitcoin while they worked for the site. One particular agent, Shaun Bridges has recently plead guilty to stealing over $800,000 USD worth of bitcoin.
Following the guilty plead by Carl Force, the hearing for Shaun Bridges was held past Monday, August 31, 2015. Shaun Bridges plead guilty to stealing over $800,000 in bitcoin. Bridges also admitted committing the crimes of money laundering and obstruction of justice. In stealing the bitcoin, Bridges used a simple yet effective strategy. After the arrest of Silk Road administrator Curtis Green, Bridges logged into the Silk Road using Green’s login credentials, proceeded to lock vendors out of their accounts, and looted their accounts into his own bitcoin address.
Bridges tried to launder the bitcoins by transferring them into his MtGox account and moving them into a Fidelity account he created under the name “Quantum International Investments LLC.” His actions led Ross Ulbricht to believe that an administrator was stealing from Silk Road. Ulbricht allegedly reacted by hiring a hitman to eliminate this person he thought stole the coins. Bridges’ lawyer Steve Levin said this in regards to Bridges:
“He’s regretted his actions since the beginning, and he’s trying to put this behind him, It’s a very stressful time.”
Ironic considering what the prosecutor for the State, Katherine Haun, said in regards to Bridges being a flight risk:
“The defendant had been actively trying to change his name and social security number in the state of Maryland. That’s very concerning.”
Allegedly, Bridges tried to change his last name to coincide with his wife’s last name, and also tried to change his social security. Haun said that Bridges handed over 4 firearms to this date, and that a change of name would enable him to purchase firearms once again. Furthermore, Bridges was forbidden from changing his name or other personal information. He is also being monitored electronically and has had curfews placed on him. Bridges will be sentenced in December of this year.
It is no secret that many people wanted Ross Ulbricht to have a lighter sentence than what he received. And, to be fair when considering the things he did as the owner of the Silk Road, his sentence does seem quite harsh. We have been put in a situation that creates feelings of distrust in the government’s judicial and executive branches. Law enforcement can no longer be trusted by the general public when they see how agents like Shaun Bridges and Carl Force fold to the temptations of power and money. In this light, the meant to protect and serve have become the ones that cause harm. The government did root out its corrupt agents, though, and justice is being had against Bridges and Force.
Furthermore, there is a discussion to be had regarding the sentencing of both Shaun Bridges and Carl Force. Can we trust that the judicial system will keep true to its promise of impartiality in the court even when a member of the government’s police force faces prosecution? Can we be sure that he would not receive special treatment of any kind? We certainly cannot be sure. There is no way of removing corruption where it iss already present. However, the judicial system has proven to be more reliable than the people’s general consensus of its effectiveness. Ross Ulbricht’s lawyer will appeal the decision made by the court using the information they have on Bridges and Force. We must wonder whether or not there is enough information to dismiss the case against Ulbricht. Although far-fetched, Ulbricht could receive a decrease in his sentencing. However, nothing is certain, and anything could happen in the American judicial system
Is the sentencing against Shaun Bridges and Carl Force fair? Will Ulbricht’s court appeal work in his favor? Let us know in the comments below!
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