Tuesday Morning Roundup
News from San Francisco and around the Bay
Agent Who Stole $820,000 From Silk Road During Probe Sentenced to Nearly Six Years
A former U.S. Secret Service agent who stole $820,000 worth of bitcoin from the Silk Road online black market while investigating it was sentenced in federal court in San Francisco Monday to five years and 11 months in prison.
Shaun Bridges, 33, of Laurel, Md., who investigated Silk Road and its founder, Ross Ulbricht, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg. The judge also ordered Bridges to forfeit more than $650,000.
Bridges pleaded guilty before Seeborg in August to one count of laundering the money he stole and one count of obstructing a federal investigation of the theft. He admitted during the plea to stealing about $350,000 worth of bitcoin from Silk Road accounts in January 2013 and that the funds had become worth $820,000 at the time he transferred the money to an investment account in his name between March and May 2013. Bridges was one of two federal agents accused and convicted of
corruption during the Silk Road probe.
The other was former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Carl Force, 46, of Baltimore. He pleaded guilty to extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice and was sentenced by Seeborg in October to six and one-half years in prison. Both Bridges and Force worked in a Baltimore-based task force investigating Ulbricht.
Silk Road, operated by Ulbricht between 2011 and 2013, sold illegal drugs, false identification, computer hacking tools and money laundering services and was described by the FBI as the most extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet at the time. Customers paid for items with bitcoin virtual currency. The website was shut down after Ulbricht was arrested while using his laptop in a San Francisco branch library in 2013.
In connection with a separate New York-based section of the investigation, Ulbricht was convicted in federal court in New York of seven counts, including running a continuing criminal enterprise and selling drugs, and was sentenced to life in prison. Bridges gained access to the Silk Road accounts by using the log-in information of a Silk Road customer service representative who had been arrested and was cooperating with authorities.
When Ulbricht discovered the loss of the bitcoin, he suspected the employee, Curtis Green, and commissioned Force, who was posing online as a foreign drug smuggler, to arrange his murder, according to prosecutors. Force, Bridges and other agents then staged a fake murder and then sent
photos of the staged event to Ulbricht. U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Abraham Simmons said that during the sentencing, Seeborg said, “Nothing in [Bridges’] background mitigates the shocking and reprehensible abandonment of his public duty.”
Bike Yield Law Opposed By the Mayor, Approved in Committee
An ordinance that would allow bicyclists to roll through stop signs while traveling at a maximum speed of 6 mph in San Francisco was approved by the Land Use and Transportation Committee and will now go to the full board for approval where it will need eight votes to override the mayor’s expected veto.
San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen, who chairs the committee, cast the sole vote Monday against the ordinance, known as the Idaho Bike Law, citing concerns that the law could be confusing for everyone on the road. Cohen, however, said she would support a pilot program in a neighborhood with heavy bicycle traffic to see what the impact will be for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos, who introduced the legislation, said this ordinance is about requiring cyclists to yield, defining what yielding looks like, and making it a low priority for police
San Francisco supervisors Jane Kim and Scott Wiener voted in favor of the ordinance Monday, arguing that police resources should not be spent on enforcing cyclist violations that do not result in the city’s most dangerous collisions, and said that they instead wanted to see police focus their resources on the most common violations by motorists that pose the greatest threat of injury and death on the road. Kim and Wiener both stressed that bicycling in San Francisco is growing rapidly and said that it’s unrealistic to ask cyclists to come to a full stop at stop signs when there are no motorists or pedestrians at the
“Slow, cautious, rolling stops” should not be an enforcement priority, Wiener said Monday.
Chris Cassidy, a spokesman for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said that passage of the law could potentially decrease injuries to cyclists in the city, citing data from the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, which found a 14.5 percent decrease in injuries in Idaho following the passage of the bike yield law, as well as 30.4 percent fewer bicycle-related injuries in Boise, Idaho compared to people cycling in similar cities without a bike yield law.
A flood of bicycling advocates shared their views, largely in favor of the law, with the committee during the public comment period. A letter from San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr addressed to the committee and read aloud at the meeting Monday states that he could not support the ordinance because it could “create dangerous situations” and lead to people running stop signs that could cost a person their life.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee also opposes the bike yield ordinance and has threatened to veto it should it be approved by the full Board of Supervisors. Eight of the 11 supervisors must vote in favor of the ordinance to override the mayor’s expected veto. The director of the Mayor’s Office on Disability, Carla Johnson, said at the committee meeting Monday that she worried the ordinance could be a threat to people with disabilities and cause increased pedestrian injuries. “San Francisco is not Boise, Idaho,” Johnson said, referring to the heavy pedestrian traffic in San Francisco in comparison to cities in Idaho where the bike yield law is in place. Johnson said, however, that she is supportive of seeing a pilot program for the bike yield law.
Board President London Breed said she believes the police department should not be cracking down on cyclists “for breaking a 1950s law that is completely outdated” and that they should instead be focusing their limited resources on motorists who violate laws that are likely to lead to fatalities or injuries. Regarding Mayor Lee’s stance on the proposed bike yield law, Breed
said Monday, “I think he’s wrong.”
No Threat Found Aboard Air France Flight that Left from SFO
Anonymous threats that caused an Air France flight, which left from San Francisco International Airport Monday afternoon, to be diverted have proven to be false, Air France officials said this morning.
Flight 83 left SFO around 3 p.m. and was headed to Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris, France, but was diverted to Montreal because of anonymous threats, airline officials confirmed in a Twitter message at 10:50 p.m.
The crew of decided to land in Montreal as a precaution, airline officials said. Local authorities there carried out a full security search before concluding the threats were unfounded, according to airline officials.
San Francisco and Bay Area Weather Report
Today will be mostly cloudy in the morning, becoming partly cloudy. Highs will be in the lower 60s and light winds will become west winds reaching around 5 miles per hour in the afternoon.
Tonight will be partly cloudy. Lows will be in the lower 50s and southwest winds will reach around 5 miles per hour.
Wednesday will be mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain in the morning and a slight chance of rain in the afternoon. Highs will be in the lower 60s and south winds will reach 5 to 10 miles per hour.