Carl Mark Force IV shuffled into the courtroom in an orange sweatshirt and orange track pants, the manacles on his feet clinking loudly.
There are some men who just look unmistakably like cops. Force is one of them—a burly, thickly-built man with blunt features and a shiny shaved head.
Were it not for the orange clothes and orange shoes he wore, he’d blend in perfectly with the other law enforcement in the courtroom that day—each of them as broad-shouldered and gleamingly bald as he was. They congregated on a single bench, whispering to each other as the lawyers lay their case in front of the judge.
They were gathered for Force’s sentencing hearing—likely the last time he will be making a public appearance, for a while at least. To nobody’s surprise, the prosecution wanted the longest sentence in the range provided by sentencing guidelines (87 months), and Force’s defense attorneys wanted the shortest (70 months). In the end, Judge Richard Seeborg split the baby with a mid-range sentence of 78 months, or 6 1/2 years. After release, Force will be under probation for another three years.
In July, Force pled guilty to money laundering, obstruction of justice, and “extortion under color of official right.”
The former DEA agent, based in Baltimore, Maryland, had been a member of the Silk Road Task Force, a sprawling multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional law enforcement effort that eventually netted Ross Ulbricht, also known as the Dread Pirate Roberts. In February 2015, Ulbricht was convicted on all counts after a jury trial in New York. He is currently serving a life sentence.
No mention of Carl Mark Force IV made it into Ulbricht’s trial. Neither did any mention of Shaun Bridges, the former Secret Service agent charged alongside him. The spree of crimes they committed as Silk Road investigators was under the seal of grand jury secrecy at the time. Bridges used the credentials of a Silk Road moderator-turned-informant to rob Dread Pirate Roberts, administrator of Silk Road. Force posed as a hitman and took money from DPR to kill the informant. Force and Bridges then faked the brutal murder of the informant.