Secret Service Agent Who Pleaded Guilty To Stealing Bitcoin From Silk Road Trying To Change His Name

from the flight-risk-or-concerned-about-opm-hack dept

Back in March, an absolutely crazy story came out about two members of the Baltimore-based law enforcement team that were trying to track down Dread Pirate Roberts who was behind the original Silk Road. An FBI team out of NY beat the Baltimore DEA/Secret Service team to finding Ross Ulbricht, leading to a weird situation in which, hours later, the Baltimore folks filed their own indictment with somewhat different charges, including a trumped up fake murder of a former Silk Road employee, that was supposedly “carried out” by an undercover agent, later revealed to be DEA agent Carl Force, who Ulbricht contacted for help. The story was crazy and cinematic, but apparently that wasn’t even half of it, because the story in March revealed that two members of the Baltimore team, including Force, had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from Silk Road. It also revealed that the “murder for hire” plot against the ex-employee only happened after the Secret Service agent, Sean Bridges, stole Bitcoin from Silk Road, leading Ulbricht to think that it was the former employee, Curtis Green.

So, yes, you had a DEA agent, Carl Force, who was already moonlighting for a Bitcoin company, and who used his position as a DEA agent to steal a bunch of money from a customer of that Bitcoin company, befriending Ross Ulbricht of Silk Road while supposedly “investigating” him. Then, you had a colleague of Force’s, the Secret Service agent Bridges, go and steal a bunch of Bitcoin from Silk Road immediately following the arrest of Curtis Green, one of Ulbricht’s top lieutenants. Green revealed his admin login, and Bridges just went in and took a ton of money. Ulbricht then contacted Force, to help him kill Green, because Ulbricht believed that Green had stolen the money that Bridges had actually stolen. It’s so complicated it feels like it needs a graphic to explain it all, but even that might be too confusing.

Either way, earlier this summer, Force pleaded guilty, and earlier this week Bridges also pleaded guilty. In both cases, some interesting additional information came out. With Force, it was that, prior to his own arrest, he’d apparently sold the rights to his story of tracking down Ulbricht to Fox for $240,000. As the government pointed out, this was a conflict of interest (you think?).

With Bridges, it’s that he had been attempting to change his name and social security number, leading the judge to wonder if he was a flight risk. According to Joe Mullin at Ars Technica:

Before the proceeding ended, prosecutor Katherine Haun mentioned that the government had just received information that gave them concerns that Bridges could be a flight risk.

“The defendant had been actively trying to change his name and social security number in the state of Maryland,” she told the judge. “That’s very concerning.”

According to Hahn, Bridges had tried to change his last name to be the same as his wife’s last name and change his first name to “a very odd name.” She also noted that Bridges had handed over four firearms after he was charged, and if he changed his name he could again be able to acquire weapons.

Bridges’ lawyer came up with an excuse that is so ridiculous that it literally made me laugh out loud. Bridges wasn’t trying to change his first name, last name and social security in order to disappear from the law, or to avoid the reputational harm of being known as a former Secret Service agent who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from an operation he was investigating… but because he was so, so worried about the recent OPM hack of government employee files. Bridges, of course, was a government employee:

Bridges’ lawyer said his client’s name change attempts had been a response to concerns about identity theft following the widely reported hacking into US federal government personnel files.

“Those of who work in the federal government have to deal with that,” said Seeborg. “When you’re concerned with flight risk, activity of this kind sends up a lot of red flags. I?m not surprised they?re bringing this to my attention.”

Somehow, among the millions of others concerned about the OPM hack, you don’t hear too many stories about them trying to change their first and last names along with their social security number…

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Comments on “Secret Service Agent Who Pleaded Guilty To Stealing Bitcoin From Silk Road Trying To Change His Name”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Somehow, among the millions of others concerned about the OPM hack, you don’t hear too many stories about them trying to change their first and last names along with their social security number…

Only because it’s so difficult. If it were not so difficult, I’d roll over to a new number every 5-10 years or so on the assumption of identity theft (once you get to be my age, a lot of companies have acquired it for “legitimate business reasons” (yay insurers!), so I just assume it’s been mishandled at least once by now). Changing my name is less important to me, but my friends already address me by something other than my legally registered name, so they wouldn’t care anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So why?

Because Ross’s laptop was seized properly and legally and had “mycrimes.txt”on it. He was convicted with a lot of evidence that is unrelated to the corrupt DEA agents and there’s no evidence that the corruption of the DEA agents tainted the actual investigation. Have whatever your opinion you want on the ethics of his incarceration, but his incarceration is on very solid legal ground and he is unlikely to win any appeals.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So why?

I hear this over and over and over again and it’s completely FALSE. There was no entrapment! Entrapment is a specific legal defense and can ONLY be used if there is no history of a defendant behaving in the manner in which he is accused, or even better, documented behavior opposite of the crime he’s accused. The key is that the police has to coerce the defendant to commit a crime contrary to the defendant’s nature.

Ross was caught red handed acting in the manner in which he is accused with complete documentary evidence of his actions in plain sight! That’s NOT entrapment! So no entrapment has nothing to do with this case, and all the other flimsy excuses. This isn’t a case of the federal government harassing someone that believes information should be free and never actually violated any law like Aaron Schwartz, this guy is a documented criminal with all documentation of the crimes in his possession when he was arrested. That’s like Al Capone getting arrested with his “real books” in his grubby fingers. Difference is Capone was smart, Ulbricht is an idiot.

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