Ex-US federal agent to spend over 6 years behind bars for Silk Road Bitcoin theft

Carl Force has admitted to a number of charges, leading to a 78-month sentence.

A former US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent who stole hundreds of thousands in Bitcoin over the course of the Silk Road investigation has been slammed with a jail sentence of over six years.


As reported by Reuters, ex-agent Carl Bates admitted to charges of extortion, money laundering and the obstruction of justice which has landed him a sentence of six and a half years.

Force was accused of secretly soliciting payment during the US government's investigation of Silk Road. Silk Road, once the premium underground marketplace for the illegal purchase of products including weapons and drugs, was closed down by federal agents in 2013.

Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind the trading post, was sentenced to life imprisonment in May for operating the website.

Also known as "Dread Pirate Roberts," the 31-year-old was handed down five life sentences with no chance of parole for charges including selling narcotics, money laundering and maintaining an ongoing criminal enterprise.

Investigators said Silk Road generated approximately $213.9m in sales before being closed down.

As noted by Ars Technica, Force, part of the investigative team, took on additional personas which were not authorized by those higher up the authority chain. Using the alter-egos "Death from Above," "French Maid" and "Nob," Force was successful in convincing Ulbricht to pay him $50,000 in bitcoins for intelligence on the investigation.

In addition, Force was moonlighting for Bitcoin company CoinMKT and stole $370,000 from a customer -- placing $37,000 in a government account but keeping the rest for himself.

In total, prosecutors say Force embezzled over $400,000.

The former agent has been ordered to pay $337,000 in restitution to the CoinMKT victim, as well as $3,000 to former Silk Road staff member Curtis Green.

In a San Francisco federal court on Monday, US District Judge Richard Seeborg said the case and agent's betrayal of the system was "breathtaking," commenting:

"It is compounded by the fact that it appears to have been motivated by greed and thrill seeking, including the pursuit of a book and movie deal."

Seeborg's ruling is less than the 87-month sentence the US government asked for but more than the 48 months Force's lawyer requested. Defense attorney Ivan Bates asked that the judge keep in mind Force's problems with mental illness as well as alcohol and drug abuse, stating the former agent has "lost his career, he's lost his marriage, he's lost everything he's had."

Force has since apologized to the American public and his family for his crimes.

A plea agreement has also been reached with Shaun Bridges, a former Secret Service agent who has also been charged with stealing virtual currency during the investigation. Bridges is due to be sentenced in December.

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