A Utah man whose faked murder helped authorities bring down an underground, online drug marketplace was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to time served — two days — for his role running the site.
Curtis Clark Green, 50, who was a senior administrator with the Silk Road site, had been awaiting sentencing since pleading guilty in 2013 to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. His sentence handed down Friday also included four years of supervised release.
"Cutis is one of the most gentle and kind-hearted people I have ever known. He was taken advantage of by [Silk Road owner] Ross Ulbricht, Slik Road users and the federal government," said Green's attorney Scott Williams. "His life was put at risk by corrupt federal agents who did very little to protect him and who blamed him for their corrupt deeds. I was not surprised that the US Attorney and Judge Blake felt like he had been through enough."
Meanwhile, a former Secret Service agent who pleaded guilty in August to pocketing hundreds of thousands in digital currency while working on the Silk Road case was arrested at his Laurel home Thursday morning after authorities say he was found with a bag containing a passport, corporate records for three offshore accounts and a bulletproof vest.
The former agent, 33-year-old Shaun Bridges, had been scheduled to turn himself in Friday to begin serving a 71-month sentence in a minimum-security prison in New Hampshire.
Green's arrest in early 2013 was part of a cross-country investigation that led to arrests on three continents and the seizure of tens of millions of dollars in assets.
Silk Road operated on an underground online system designed to hide the site's location and mask the identity of its users. The illicit deals were consummated in bitcoin, a digital currency not backed by any bank or government and difficult for law enforcement to trace.
The administrator of Silk Road, Ross William Ulbricht, received a life sentence after being tried in New York City, while two Baltimore-based federal agents who played key roles in the investigation, Bridges and Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Carl Mark Force, were each sentenced to more than 70 months in prison for pocketing hundreds of thousands in digital currency while working undercover on the case.
Bridges, a former Maryland state trooper and volunteer Anne Arundel County public schools martial-arts instructor, admitted stealing $350,000 worth of bitcoin, which swelled in value to $800,000. Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. wrote a character letter on behalf of Bridges asking for leniency.
His attorney, Steve Levin, said Bridges was detained at his home but declined further comment.
Agents identified the administrator of the site by his alias of "Dread Pirate Roberts," and began working to infiltrate his inner circle. The arrest of an Edgewood man, Jacob Theodore George IV, who was using Silk Road to sell heroin and imported Chinese methylone — a synthetic drug similar to Ecstasy — provided new inside access to the site.
Green, who worked as a Silk Road administrator resolving disputes between buyers and sellers, was identified by authorities after having a kilogram of cocaine sent to his home. Green agreed to speak with members of the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force.
Hours after Green was debriefed, Silk Road "suffered a series of sizable thefts" of currency associated with Green's account, according to court records. Green denied involvement, and the theft would later be traced.
But before that discovery, Dread Pirate Roberts contacted Force, who used the alias "nob," about commissioning Green's murder. He wired $80,000 to Force to kill Green, and task force members faked Green's death, authorities said.
Ulbricht was eventually arrested in San Francisco, and convicted after a jury trial in Manhattan. He is appealing his conviction. He is also charged in Maryland. The U.S. attorney's office for Maryland did not return a message seeking comment on the cases.