ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.
The twisted and long running legal processes into the shady dealings of the Silk Road investigations now seem to be harvesting victims from both sides of the divide. The latest is Shaun Bridges, the convicted Secret Service agent who has raised eyebrows by trying to create a new identity.
Prosecutors allege that Bridges wanted to flee justice hence the reason he sought new identity. He however disputes these claims, reiterating that he was just a victim of a conspiracy that involves the prosecution, car thieves as well as identity thieves.
Prosecutor Kathryn Haun told the federal court that the government became aware of this attempt only moments before Bridges’ hearing. Haun said that aside from seeking to change his name and social security number, the authorities found Bridges in possession of four illegal firearms. This prompted her to think Bridges may make a run for his freedom if allowed to roam free on bail while awaiting sentencing in December.
Bridges already plead guilty to bitcoin theft, laundering as well as obstructing justice. Bridges admitted to obstructing evidence from the Baltimore Taskforce that investigated the Silk Road. This admission and the conviction that ensued however, seems only to be the genesis of Bridges’ problems. His defence attorney Mr Steven Levin claims that this is not the first time Bridges has fallen victim. According to him, the besieged Secret Service agent has been a victim of identity another three times since his involvement in the Silk Road’s investigations became public.
Bridges admitted to stealing more than US $800,000 worth of bitcoins. He formally requested to change his personal information including name and social security number before he could enter his guilty plea. Prosecution seems to consider this reasonable, their ire however stems from Bridges’ further petition to implore the court to keep the initial petition private. This action did infuriate Richard Seaborg, U.S. District Court Judge who created him a new curfew schedule, established electronic monitoring on him and forbade him Internet access.
Bridges worked for the Electronic Crimes Task Force whose work provided the prosecutors trying Ross Ulbricht with convincing evidence on drug and murder for hire charges against the Silk Road founder.
Bridges’ defence claims that their client’s identity is one among many millions compromised during a cyber-attack that affected the Office of Personnel Management. They are also pushing another theory that their client easily attracts attention based on his involvement in the Silk Road case.
These are claims that Haun disputes stating that Bridges attempted to take several new names. She adds that Bridges’ actions are even more suspicious because he did not notify his pre-trial officer. Moreover, he was in possession of guns including an assault weapon at the time of his arrest.
Mr Bridges claims that he lost his wallet, Maryland Police identification document and credit cards in September when thieves broke into his car. He managed to replace these but was arrested early October when he reported the incident to his assigned pre-trial officer.
Prosecution refutes this story. They do not believe Bridges’ car was broken into. In fact, they think this is Bridges’ ploy to try to get new identification documents. They think he wants to use these to be able to conceal weapons, enter government facilities and gain a fresh set of ID without enduring the standard protocols.
The prosecution concluded through this action that Bridges does not deserve trust even under court-ordered supervision and poses a severe flight risk.
According to the prosecution, he losing his wallet but not his driver’s license is a clear red flag. These are claims that Bridges’ defence rubbishes saying that the prosecutions requests is nothing short of asking for Bridges’ arrest because he was a victim of theft.
Meanwhile, this criminal trial against Bridges really bolsters the appeal case of the Silk Road’s mastermind, Ross Ulbricht whose defence could not use to their advantage, the possibility of criminal actions of the agents involved in his conviction. The criminality of Bridges and his DEA counterpart on the Silk Road case, Carl Force, was considered forbidden evidence in Ulbricht’s trial.
These current developments may change the entire landscape of Ulbricht’s appeal, which admittedly looks slightly brighter now. There is a viable possibility of a lighter sentence as opposed to the two concurrent life in prison sentences he is currently serving.
Carl Force too, pleaded guilty to a variety of corruption charges including extortion for which he earned a sentence of 78 months in prison. Revelations of corruption as evidenced by both Carl and Bridges’ conviction cast a dark shadow on the integrity of the government’s investigation case against Ross Ulbricht and the Silk Road.
Lyn Ulbricht, Ross’ mother, thinks that the corruption allegations against Bridges and Force really waters down the strength of the government’s case against his son. According to Mrs Ulbricht, these allegations really dent the government’s accusation of murder for hire, which the family insist are false.