Corrupt Silk Road Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, Carl Force, was sentenced to 78 months (6 years) in federal prison by a judge Monday, who said Force’s difficult upbringing did not warrant any exception to the sentencing guidelines.
“The extent and the scope of Mr. Force’s betrayal of public trust is quite simply breathtaking,” said U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg while handling Force’s case. “It is compounded by the fact that it appears to have been motivated by greed and thrill seeking, including the pursuit of a book and movie deal.”
Force was one of two corrupt DEA agents investigating the Silk Road online market, as part of a Baltimore-based task force. During their investigation, Force began taking on additional usernames and alter personalities that had not been authorized by the agency. One alias, “Death From Above,” tried to extort Ross William Ulbricht, the man who was convicted of being Dread Pirate Roberts, the owner and founder of the Silk Road whose currently serving a life sentence.
Another alias taken on by Force, “French Maid,” offered up “law enforcement counter-intel” for $98,000 that he was allegedly in possession of at the time.
During Ulbricht’s Silk Road trial, information about Force and the other corrupt agent were kept out of the courtroom. However, Force was arrested and pled guilty shortly after his arrest in June.
Judge Seeborg’s sentence was less than the 87-month (7 Years and 3 months) sentence the U.S. government request Force serve, but is far more substantial than the 48 months (4 years) Force’s defense asked for.
In addition to Force’s crimes against Ulbricht, he scammed a customer at CoinMKT, a Bitcoin-related company he was illegally working with. Force stole some $370,000 from a CointMKT customer account, adding $37,000 of it to a government account and keeping the rest for himself. As part of Force’s sentence, Force has been ordered as of today, to pay back $337,000 in restitution fees to the victim, who was only identified as RP. In addition to restitution, Force is also ordered to pay $3,000 to Curtis Green, a former Silk Road staff member who Force’s team arrested during the investigation.
During the sentencing hearing, Force’s lawyer, Ivan Bates, argued that while his client accepts responsibility for his crimes, the judge should take into account Force’s mental illness and family history of alcoholism and abuse.
“There’s no doubt he’s going to jail,” Bates admit. “He’s lost his career. He’s lost his marriage, he’s lost everything he’s had. He’ll always have a life sentence because of the mental health issues he has.”
Bates also contested that Force shouldn’t have been assigned undercover work per his position. During an uncover mission back in Puerto Rico dating back to 2008, a particular job caused Force to have a “break from reality,” after which he was institutionalized. Force wasn’t allowed to return to his DEA position until some time in 2010.
“The notion that Mr. Force should get a reduction because he was operating in a stressful environment and has mental health issues, that would send an incredibly dangerous message,” countered one prosecutor, Kathryn Haun. “Many federal agents operate in stressful environments. It’s a stressful job.”
Force is currently barred from any form of communication with Shaun Bridges, the second corrupt DEA agent who was also convicted of stealing of stealing a large amount of money during the Silk Road investigation. Bridges damages are far worse, stealing an alleged 20,000 bitcoin (roughly $820,000 at the time) from Silk Road users wallets. Bridges has already pled guilty to obstruction of justice and money laundering back in September and is scheduled to be sentenced in December.
Following the sentencing Monday, the ex-agent apologized to the American people for his betrayal the judge called “breathtaking.”
“I’m sorry,” Force said. “I lost it and I don’t understand a lot of it.”