Two US federal agents have been charged for stealing money while working on the investigation into the Silk Road, the infamous online drug marketplace that was seized in 2013.
Drug Enforcement Alliance (DEA) officer Carl Mark Force IV and the Secret Service's Shaun Bridges are accused of wire fraud and money laundering, with Force also accused of theft of government property. They're expected to be arrested later today. The New York Times had details on the charges:
Mr. Force, while investigating Silk Road, "stole and converted to his own personal use a sizeable amount of bitcoins," the digital currency that was used by buyers and sellers on the website, which he obtained in his undercover capacity, the government said.
So during the investigation that led to the arrest and controversial trial of Ross Ulbricht, who was convicted on drug kingpin charges for running the site, federal agents were siphoning off bitcoin they obtained while sneaking around the drug site undercover.
This may turn into good news for Ulbricht, since it pours doubt on investigations: Two officers breaking bad on the job isn't exactly a stellar sign that the case was conducted above-board. And government agency sketchiness is exactly why Ulbricht's defence lawyer Robert Dratchel filed for a retrial: Dratchel said the government didn't provide exculpatory evidence in time, and that it conducted warrantless surveillance. Dratchel's accusations remain unproven, but now it's clear there was some fraudulent behaviour going down.