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Former Federal Agents in Silk Road Case Hit With Charges

Two former federal agents have been hit with charges ranging from wire fraud to money laundering in connection with stealing Bitcoins during their investigation of the Silk Road underground market.

Charges against former DEA agent Carl M. Force, 46, of Baltimore and former U.S. Secret Service agent Shaun W. Bridges, 32, of Laurel, MD, were contained in a federal complaint issued March 25 in California and unsealed today.

According to authorities, while Force worked undercover, he developed additional online personas and using them in a scheme to extort money and solicit a bribe from the target of the investigation, Russ Ulbricht, aka 'Dread Pirate Roberts'. In one such transaction, he allegedly sold information about the government's investigation to Ulbricht, who was convicted of operating the drug bazaar in February. 

Authorities also state that Force invested in and worked for a digital currency exchange company known as CoinMKT while at the DEA, and that he directed the company to freeze a customer's account with no legal basis and then transferred the customer's funds to his personal account. He is also accused of sending an unauthorized Justice Department subpoena to an online payment service directing that it unfreeze his account.

Bridges meanwhile stands accused of diverting more than $800,000 in Bitcoins he gained control of during the Silk Road investigation into his personal account. According to the complaint, Bridges placed the assets into an account at Mt. Gox, the now-defunct digital currency exchange, and wired the funds into one of his personal accounts in the United States just days before seeking a $2.1 million seizure warrant for Mt. Gox's accounts.

Bridges surrendered today, while Force was arrested March 27 in Baltimore. 

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