A Secret Service agent, key in prosecuting Ross Ulbricht during the infamous Silk Road case, was himself sentenced to prison 7 November 2017 for money laundering crimes while investigating Mr. Ulbricht.
Senior Business Editor at Ars Technica, Cyrus Farivar “was the sole member of the public in court” of San Francisco’s US District Court. He was there to witness a sad chapter in bitcoin history, an infuriating one for most bitcoiners: disgraced US Secret Service agent, Shaun Bridges, was sentenced to two more years of prison.
Agent Bridges is already serving nearly six years for thieving money from Silk Road members while investigating Ross Ulbricht.
The new round of prison time stems from charges brought after Agent Bridges was first convicted. Authorities believe he zapped at least 1,600 bitcoins to himself while the ink was drying on that first guilty plea.
As pointed out by Mr. Farivar, Agent Bridges “laundered the funds stolen from the United States government by moving the funds out of the BTC-e account and into other various online wallets and accounts,” according to court documents.
Among many outrages, one immediately jumps out of Mr. Farivar’s accounts. In a courtesy not normally extended non-government citizens, Agent Bridges “was temporarily free between the time that he was previously convicted in late 2015 and then re-arrested in early 2016,” the article claims.
Former prosecuting attorney Kathryn Haun details how while free, Agent Bridges “tried to change names and social security numbers,” and “it seemed that new criminal activity was possibly afoot,” she told Ars Technica.
A Tearful Secret Service Agent Begs for Better Prison Conditions
Agent Bridges also moaned tearfully about his present terms of incarceration, “I’m pretty much alone, 99 percent of the time,” Mr. Farivar quotes the Secret Service Agent now prisoner. “They talk about one hour per day; it’s more like one hour per three days. The six years I face in the case psychologically breaks you; you’re just alone all the time.”
It’s an interesting contrast for most bitcoiners, who are aware of Ross Ulbricht’s case and incarceration. Mr. Ulbricht is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, compared with a corrupt Secret Service Agent’s relatively paltry eight. And while debate might be had about Mr. Ulbricht’s ultimate involvement in Silk Road, no charges were ever brought having to do with stealing funds or defrauding anyone. Crucially, and unlike Agent Bridges, Ross Ulbricht never plead guilty, maintaining his innocence.
At the conviction’s worst, assuming Mr. Ulbricht’s guilt, he ran an underground Ebay, of sorts, where buyers and sellers were brought together by a product-agnostic, indifferent website, Silk Road. Some analysts have maintained Silk Road provided a safer environment for buying and selling products deemed illegal by the government, products otherwise exchanged in person, carrying obvious dangers.
“US District Judge Richard Seeborg said that [Agent Bridges’] totality of crimes and continued dishonesty to the government,” Ars Technica quotes, “was a ‘betrayal of trust’ and was ‘among the worst of crimes.'”
Judge Seeborg scolded, “Particularly troubling is the fact that Mr. Bridges did engage in further efforts to conceal and need to steal after he had entered the plea agreement.”
Bitcoiners wishing to learn about Ross Ulbricht and his case are encouraged to surf on over to FreeRoss.org.
What are your thoughts on the Silk Road case? Tell us in the comments below!