DEA Agent Makes Plea Deal in Silk Road Corruption Case

Jon Southurst
Jun 23, 2015 at 11:02 UTC
Updated Jun 23, 2015 at 15:09 UTC
news

Carl Mark Force IV, the DEA agent accused of stealing nearly $1m-worth of bitcoin during an investigation into the Silk Road, has reportedly struck a plea deal with prosecutors.

This follows last week’s guilty plea by a US Secret Service agent involved with the case, Shaun Bridges, to money laundering and wire fraud.

As reported by Bloomberg, a Monday court filing at the US District Court in San Francisco, California, revealed Force will plead guilty to charges including money laundering and extortion. He will face a hearing on 1st July to enter the pleas.

Force’s crimes

As well as stealing bitcoins from Silk Road’s wallets and transferring over $200,000 in fiat to a personal account in Panama, Force is accused of committing several questionable acts against other companies and bitcoin users unrelated to the Silk Road case.

According to the filings, the 46-year-old DEA agent of 15 years went rogue with a string of authorized and unauthorized undercover identities, at times offering his services as an insider to companies like Mt Gox.

When payments startup Venmo froze his accounts for suspicious transactions, Force allegedly sent the company a fake subpoena, embarking on a personal campaign to have the company investigated and its accounts seized.

He is also accused of ‘flashing his badge’ at popular exchange Bitstamp when that company flagged his account for suspicious activity. It was said that this pattern of behavior eventually became Force’s undoing, as the companies reported it to his superiors.

Force, also licensed as a CPA in Maryland, also marketed his services as a bitcoin tax expert after Silk Road had been shut down.

He also managed to get a de facto compliance officer position with bitcoin trading platform CoinMKT, where he allegedly froze a customer’s acccount and stole from it.

Government kept allegations secret

That fact that two federal agents involved with the Silk Road case had been arrested and charged with crimes resulting from their investigation was not revealed until after the trial of Ross Ulbricht, who was found guilty of masterminding the project.

Ulbricht’s defense lawyer Joshua Dratel described the non-disclosure during the trial as a “monumental scandal”.

The agents’ corruption also did not have any mitigating effect on Ulbricht’s sentencing, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment on 29th May.

Ulbricht’s team filed an appeal against both the sentence and conviction on 5th June. He also faces a murder-for-hire charge separate to the main case, which was part of Bridges’ and Force’s Baltimore investigation.

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