Former Silk Road investigator gets more than six years for bitcoin theft

Former Silk Road investigator gets more than six years for bitcoin theft
© Getty Images

A former federal investigator was sentenced to 78 months in prison for stealing bitcoins and soliciting illegal payments during the government’s years-long investigation that took down Silk Road, the dark Web market.

Carl Force, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent, admitted to clandestinely taking payments from Silk Road's top operator for “inside” information on the federal probe. Force made hundreds of thousands of dollars off his illicit dealings, according to prosecutors.


Force had pled guilty in July to extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

In announcing the sentence on Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg called Force’s actions “breathtaking,” Reuters reported.

Force acknowledged his behavior in an apology.

“I'm sorry, I lost it and I don't understand a lot of it," he said.

By the time authorities shuttered Silk Road in October 2013, it had become the largest underground digital market for drugs and other illicit goods, generating more than $1.2 billion in total sales.

Force was central to that investigation, working in 2012 and 2013 on the Silk Road task force. He had perhaps the most direct line to Ross Ulbricht, or “Dread Pirate Roberts,” who was sentenced to life in prison this May for creating and operating Silk Road.

According to prosecutors, Force used this connection to convince Ulbricht to exchange bitcoin payments for details on the federal investigation. Force then covered up these dealings with encrypted messaging and never reported the payments, the government said.