The former U.S. agent who led the investigation of the illegal Silk Road Internet drug emporium admitted while pleading guilty to charges he pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in digital currency that he also had a $240,000 Hollywood film deal at the time.
Prosecutors disclosed that Carl Force had signed a contract with 21st Century Fox Inc. in March 2014 while he was still employed with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, months before he was arrested. Force pleaded guilty Wednesday in San Francisco federal court to money laundering, extortion and obstruction of justice.
“The contract related to a movie deal concerning the investigation into the Silk Road, which called for up to $240,000 in payments,” according to Force’s plea agreement. The court filing doesn’t say whether he collected the money.
Force’s plea agreement follows a similar deal reached June 17 with Shaun Bridges, a U.S. Secret Service agent who worked with Force on the same Baltimore task force and was also charged with stealing bitcoins.
The Silk Road investigation led to the conviction of the site’s founder Ross Ulbricht. Ulbricht, 31, who was known online as Dread Pirate Roberts, was sentenced in May to life in prison.
Force, without telling his superiors at the DEA, adopted the alias “French Maid” to extort and negotiate with Ulbricht, selling information about the government’s investigation in exchange for a payment of $100,000 in bitcoins, according to the plea agreement.
Force also acknowledged using his federal position to seize for himself $300,000 worth of bitcoin from an unidentified user of the virtual currency.
“In the end, Mr. Force cashed out hundreds of thousands of dollars to his own personal bank account,” Kathryn R. Haun, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in court.
In all, Force piled up $757,000 on his undercover crime spree, Haun said.
Force faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice his ill-gotten gains. Force paid the U.S. Attorney’s Office $158,865 Tuesday in restitution, prosecutors said.
Ivan Bates, a lawyer for Force, declined after court to comment on the plea agreement.
Dan Berger, a spokesman for 21st Century Fox, didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment on Force’s contract.
The case is USA v. Force, 15-cr-00319, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).