by Joseph Young
Former U.S. Secret Service and Silk Road Task Force agent Shaun Bridges was sentenced 71 months in jail for money laundering, obstruction of justice and fraud.
In addition to his sentence, US District Judge Richard Seeborg asked the court to seize around US$500,000 worth of funds from his brokerage, trust & securities and a PNC bank account.
“This, to me, is an extremely serious crime consisting of the betrayal of public trust from a public official. From what I can see, it was motivated by greed,” said Seeborg. “No departure or variance is warranted in this case. I seldom find myself in the position of imposing a high-end sentence, but I find this is warranted in this case.”
The 32-year old former agent was pleaded guilty on October 31, before Seeborg of the Northern District of California. At the time, Bridges admitted stealing over US$820,000 worth of bitcoins during the Silk Road investigation.
“Mr. Bridges has now admitted that he brazenly stole $820,000 worth of digital currency while working as a U.S. Secret Service special agent, a move that completely violated the public’s trust,” said U.S. Attorney Haag.
“We depend on those in federal law enforcement having the highest integrity and unshakeable honor, and Mr. Bridges has demonstrated that he utterly lacks those qualities. We appreciate the hard work of our federal partners that went into bringing Mr. Bridges to justice.”
Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Haun also revealed in court today that Bridges was involved in several investigations of now defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox. Haun stated that Bridges moved all of his personal funds out of the exchange before proceeding with the criminal case to hide his transaction history from the government.
“The number of cases that Mr. Bridges contaminated—as well as investigations across the country that his conduct led to have to be shut down—is startling,” explained Haun.
“There was another investigation into Mt. Gox that had to be shut down. I can tell you that Mr. Bridges learned there was a criminal investigation afoot with Mt. Gox, and what did he do? He turned around to the AUSA and did a civil seizure warrant to [Mt. Gox founder Mark] Karpeles. But two days before he did that, he made sure to get all of his money out. Bridges didn’t want a criminal case to proceed because if the government got the records, they would have seen his name.”
However, Bridges’ lawyers Craig Denney and Steven Hale Levin asked the court to decrease the sentence to 36 months, considering the former agent’s professional accomplishments and his attempt to reimburse all funds he stole during the Silk Road investigation.
“There are no excuses; we’re not making excuses. Mr. Bridges has not made excuses,” Hale Levin said in court. “Mr. Bridges knows he acted foolishly—that’s an understatement. He knows he acted foolishly when he stole the bitcoins, but he’s not a fool.”
Bridges himself claims that he never spent the money he stole and he apologized.
“I am very proud of my past at least before this, before this moment. I’ve lost a lot. I’ve accepted responsibility. I owe all this money though I never spent a penny of it,” Bridges told the court. “I have lived with this burden for two years. I could never spend any of it. I want it to be clear that I accept full responsibility. My wife has lost everything, she went to college to go to law enforcement and now she has lost it all. I just wanted to apologize to everybody.”