Former CEO And COO Of JHL Biotech Sentenced For Conspiring To Steal Trade Secrets And Commit Wire Fraud Exceeding $101 Million
SAN FRANCISCO – A former Secret Service special agent who had been a member of the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force was sentenced to prison on charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Chief Richard Weber of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson, Special Agent in Charge Michael P. Tompkins of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General’s Washington, D.C., Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge James E. Ward of the Department of Homeland Security-Office of the Inspector General’s Atlanta Field Office.
This afternoon, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg sentenced Shaun W. Bridges, 33, of Laurel, Maryland, to 71 months in prison following his guilty plea to one count of money laundering and one count of obstructing justice. Bridges was also ordered to forfeit more than $650,000.
Between 2012 and 2014, Bridges was assigned to the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force, a multi-agency group investigating illegal activity on the Silk Road. The Silk Road is a covert online marketplace for illicit goods, primarily drugs. Bridges’ responsibilities included, among other things, conducting forensic computer investigations in an effort to locate, identify, and prosecute targets, including Ross Ulbricht, aka Dread Pirate Roberts, who ran the Silk Road from the Northern District of California.
As part of his guilty plea, Bridges admitted to using account information that he obtained during the January 2013 search and arrest of Curtis Green, a customer support representative on Silk Road. Bridges used the information to reset passwords and pins of various accounts on Silk Road and move approximately 20,000 bitcoin, at the time worth approximately $350,000, from those accounts into a bitcoin “wallet” that Bridges controlled. When Ulbricht learned that Green’s access to Silk Road had been used to transfer bitcoin from Silk Road into a wallet, Ulbricht cancelled Green’s administrator access to Silk Road and attempted to have him killed in retaliation for the bitcoin thefts.
Bridges admitted that he moved the stolen bitcoin into an account at Mt. Gox, an online digital currency exchange based in Japan, and that between March and May 2015, he liquidated the bitcoin into $820,000 in U.S. currency and had the funds transferred to a personal investment account in the United States. In June 2014, Bridges transferred money from the investment account into a personal bank account that he shared with another person. Moreover, days after Bridges removed the illegally-obtained proceeds from Mt. Gox, he then served as an affiant in a warrant to enable federal authorities to seize Mt. Gox’s assets.
Bridges also admitted he used Green’s access to Silk Road to steal bitcoin from the site, thereby limiting Green’s access to further the Baltimore Grand Jury investigation of Ulbricht and Silk Road. Additionally, Bridges admitted that he made multiple false and misleading statements to both prosecutors and investigators in connection with the San Francisco Grand Jury investigation into his own illegal acts.
During the sentencing, Judge Seeborg stated, “nothing in [Bridges’] background mitigates the shocking and reprehensible abandonment of his public duty.” The judge found that a sentence on the high end of the sentencing guidelines was appropriate in light of Bridges’ “inexcusable” conduct which, the judge pointed out, might have gotten a witness killed.
Bridges is the second of two federal agents to be sentenced in connection with the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force’s investigation into the Silk Road. Carl M. Force, 46, of Baltimore, was a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration who pleaded guilty on July 1, 2015, to a three-count information charging him with money laundering with predicates of wire fraud and theft of government property, obstruction of justice, and extortion under color of official right, related to his theft and diversion of over $700,000 in digital currency to which he gained control as part of undercover role on the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force. On Oct. 19, 2015, Judge Seeborg sentenced Force to 78 months in prison.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathryn Haun and William Frentzen of the Northern District of California and Trial Attorney Richard B. Evans of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, with the assistance of San Francisco Legal Assistant Daniel Charlier-Smith, Christine Tian, and Lance Libatique. Assistant U.S. Attorney Arvon Perteet assisted with Asset Forfeiture aspects of the case. The case was investigated by the FBI’s San Francisco Division, the IRS-CI’s San Francisco Division, the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, and the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General in Washington D.C. The prosecution team is also thankful for the assistance of the following components for their support throughout the investigation of this case: IRS Criminal Investigation – New York Field Office, HSI’s Chicago/O’Hare Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the U.S. Embassy in Slovenia, and the FBI Legal Attaché Office in Tokyo, Japan.