2 federal agents charged with stealing digital currency amid inquiry into online black market

Markets Associated Press

Two former federal agents have been charged with stealing digital currency during their investigation into an online black market that allowed users to buy and sell drugs and other illegal items.

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Carl M. Force, 46, of Baltimore, was a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Shaun W. Bridges, 32, of Laurel, Maryland, was a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service on a task force that investigated the Silk Road marketplace. The website promised its buyers and sellers anonymity by using encryption and bitcoins.

The criminal complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco last Wednesday and unsealed Monday.

Force served as an undercover agent and was tasked with establishing communications with a target of the investigation, Ross William Ulbricht. Force is charged with wire fraud, theft of government property, money laundering and conflict of interest. Bridges is charged with wire fraud and money laundering.

In February, Ulbricht was convicted on seven drug and conspiracy charges alleging he created a multimillion-dollar marketplace for illegal drugs and other contraband on the Internet by adopting the alias Dread Pirate Roberts.

Force was arrested last Friday in Baltimore and will appear in Maryland before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson on Monday afternoon. Bridges will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James in San Francisco on Monday morning.