A former undercover drug agent who worked on the Silk Road bitcoin case pleaded guilty to extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice in federal court Wednesday.
Carl M. Force, 46, was a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent in Baltimore for 15 years when he was assigned to the Baltimore Silk Road task force in 2014. Force used his position as an undercover agent to extort money from Ross Ulbricht, known as Dred Pirate Roberts and the center of the Silk Road scandal.
Force admitted to being on Ulbricht’s payroll while assigned to investigate Silk Road, including receipt of bitcoin payments in exchange for information, including “insider” law enforcement information.
Rather than disclose Ulbricht’s payments to the government and turn them over, Force lied in official reports and pocketed the money, according to the government.
The government accused him of receiving roughly $700,000 in bitcoin payments.
Force also created fictitious personalities to extort money from Ulbricht and keep the money for his personal use, according to the government.
In addition, Force admitted profiting in other ways, including a 2014 contract with Twentieth Century Fox movie studio for a movie about the government’s Silk Road investigation. The movie deal, for up to $240,000, was made while he was still working for the DEA.
The maximum sentence is 20 years in prison but is likely to be adjusted depending on the U.S. sentencing guidelines.
Case: U.S. v. Force, No. 15-CR-319