Police Officer in Court Over Stolen Bitcoin

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  • Australian police officer William Wheatley has pled not guilty to allegedly stealing 81 BTC from a 2019 raid
  • Wheatley’s case involves allegations of stealing bitcoins from a wallet seized during the raid
  • The case is similar in nature to the mass thefts from Silk Road by corrupt agents

An Australian police officer who allegedly stole over 81 BTC from a steroid trafficking operation he was investigating has pleaded not guilty in a Melbourne court. Federal agent William Wheatley is alleged to have stolen the funds during a raid in January 2019, with prosecutors alleging that he sold the coins and transferred the cash to his bank. The allegations are reminiscent of the Silk Road case, where two corrupt US agents stole thousands of bitcoins from Silk Road during that investigation.

Trezor Wallet Seized and Emptied

Detectives seized a Trezor wallet at the scene of the raid but discovered that it had been emptied just days afterward, noting that the wallet’s seed phrase had been written down where it was found.

The Cyber Crime Squad initially suspected syndicate involvement in the transfer of the bitcoin, now valued at over $4 million, but subsequent investigations traced the stolen bitcoin to Binance and an IP address associated with the AFP headquarters linked to its movement.

An internal investigation by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity focused on five cybercrime officers, ultimately implicating Wheatley. Further scrutiny revealed transactions allegedly tied to withdrawals into Wheatley’s bank account, while text messages between Wheatley and another AFP officer suggested familiarity with cryptocurrencies, deepening suspicion of him.

Similarities With Silk Road Thefts

Despite Wheatley’s denial of the charges, Magistrate Malcolm Thomas committed him to stand trial next month, acknowledging sufficient evidence for a conviction. His defense plans to challenge the circumstantial nature of the case, anticipating a lengthy trial possibly lasting up to three months.

The case is reminiscent of the actions of DEA agent Carl Force and Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges, both of whom investigated the Silk Road case and stole thousands of bitcoins from the site and were jailed as a result.