Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Almost Unbelievable Story of One Of the Corrupt Silk Road Investigators

From Motherboard:

Great Moments in Shaun Bridges, a Corrupt Silk Road Investigator
On Monday Wired reported that former Silk Road investigator Shaun Bridges was arrested again while trying to flee the United States. While most of the details surrounding his re-arrest are still under seal, a government filing says that law enforcement seized two bags containing identity documents, “corporate records for offshore entities,” including one that he had created after pleading guilty in this case, a Macbook with the serial number scratched off, and bulletproof vests that were probably stolen from the Secret Service.

Carl Mark Force IV—the other corrupt cop charged alongside Bridges—is pretty hard to beat, just name-wise. But Shaun Bridges has definitely had his moments. In June 2015, Bridges pled to corruption charges that Neal Stephenson would have never written into a novel, for fear of being too improbable. 
But prior to that, the former Secret Service agent had an illustrious career in law enforcement. He was a successful hostage negotiator before he was in the Secret Service. As a Secret Service agent, he guarded the Obamas while simultaneously working for the National Security Agency in some unspecified capacity. From the outside, he was a hero cop—so much so that Robert Ehrlich, the former governor of Maryland, wrote a letter on his behalf, asking the judge to mitigate his sentence.
Maybe the higher you go, the further you have to fall. But really, the story of Shaun Bridges isn’t so much a Greek tragedy as it is a collection of bizarre vignettes of ballsy police misconduct, each one more ridiculous than the next.

That time Bridges transferred $820,000 from Mt. Gox, then served warrants on Mt. Gox
Back in May 2013, theUnited States government seized $2.1 million in accounts belonging to Mt. Gox, the world’s then-largest bitcoin exchange. Shaun Bridges put together an affidavit for the seizure warrant. He wrapped it up only two days after he had finished wiring $820,000 from Mt. Gox to “Quantum International Investments, LLC,” a company that he had registered on February 12, 2013.

Seriously, this guy pulled all his funds out of a bitcoin exchange that he was about to help seize. While Bridges claims that he just was following orders with the seizure warrant, the US Attorney’s office in San Francisco thinks there was a more nefarious motive.

In his sentencing hearing in December, Assistant US Attorney Kathryn Haun told the judge that the seizure had compromised a criminal investigation into Mt. Gox, and that the investigation ended up being shut down. Haun said that Bridges had compromised the criminal case against Mt. Gox on purpose, because he feared being exposed.

Exposed? For what? you might ask. Well, let’s start with where that $820,000 came from.

That time Bridges stole 20,000 bitcoins from the Dread Pirate Roberts, then set up a cooperating witness for the fall
At the time, Shaun Bridges was an agent working with the Silk Road Task Force, a multi-agency effort that spanned across many jurisdictions. Their mission: to identify the Dread Pirate Roberts and take down the hidden online black market that he operated.

In early 2013, they made a big break in the case, when law enforcement identified and apprehended Curtis Green, one of the Silk Road moderators. Green rolled over and agreed to cooperate. The moderator-turned-witness gave law enforcement his login credentials, and on January 25, he debriefed Carl Force, Shaun Bridges, and other Baltimore-based agents on how to “log into Silk Road vendor accounts and reset passwords, how to change the status of a seller to a vendor, how to reset pins.”

Bridges left the information session in the afternoon. Then “during the afternoon and into the night, the Silk Road website suffered a series of sizeable thefts.”

The Silk Road Task Force blamed Curtis Green. The Dread Pirate Roberts blamed Curtis Green. Poor Green was left flailing, unable to explain why this enormous theft could be traced back to his own account....MORE