DOJ Charges Former Federal Agents with Bitcoin Wire Fraud and Money Laundering

The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has charged two former federal agents with stealing digital currency while they were investigating Silk Road, an underground black market that facilitates illegal transactions online.

Carl M. Force, a former Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) agent, is charged with wire fraud, theft of government property, money laundering and conflict of interest. Shaun W. Bridges, a former U.S. Secret Service agent, is charged with wire fraud and money laundering. Both were part of the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force that was investigating illegal activity in the online marketplace known as Silk Road.

The DOJ complaint alleges that Force used a number of different online personas to engage in illegal activities for personal gain. Force allegedly used these false personas to engage in illegal Bitcoin transactions and then deposited the digital funds into his personal account instead of a government account. In addition, Force is accused of selling information about the investigation to a target of the investigation and sending an unauthorized DOJ subpoena to an online payment service directing it to unfreeze his personal account. He is also accused of investing in and working for a Bitcoin exchange company, where he allegedly froze a customer’s account and transferred that customer’s funds into his personal account.

Bridges is accused of diverting more than $800,000 in digital currency that he gained access to during his Silk Road investigation to his personal account. He allegedly placed the currency into an account at the now-defunct Japanese digital currency exchange Mt. Gox, and then transferred those assets into his personal account just prior to seeking a $2.1 million seizure warrant for Mt. Gox accounts.

The Cogdell Law Firm is a full service criminal litigation and appellate law firm. We provide client-focused representation at all stages of the process, whether our clients are seeking to avoid charges, have been charged, or are seeking reversal of a conviction on appeal. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or info@cogdell-law.com

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