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Steven Sadler (via Smoking Gun).

Steven Lloyd Sadler, the Bellevue, Wash., software engineer who was charged earlier this month as one of the top drug dealers on the illicit Silk Road online black market, was at one point a federal informant cooperating with the government in the case, according to a new report.

Sadler, known online as “Nod,” was identified by prosecutors as “working for the government for the past two months,” during an Oct. 2 court hearing, according to audio obtained by the Smoking Gun website. However, prosecutors said at the hearing that his cooperation “abruptly came to an end” that morning due to “unusual circumstances.”

Ross Ulbricht, the alleged Silk Road leader, was arrested a day before the hearing, and the site was shut down.

The Smoking Gun reports, “it appears likely that (Sadler) would have been required to assist agents in the analysis of his computer data, customer lists, or financial records. In similar cases, agents have also assumed the identity of cooperators and, posing as the arrested individual, carried on online interactions with hoodwinked customers and suppliers.”

Some of Sadler’s online profiles list him as a software engineer for Bellevue-based Intelius. However, the company said in an email message to GeekWire earlier this month that Sadler “was employed by Intelius as a software engineer for a very short time and his employment ended over four years ago.”

Sadler pleaded not guilty to a variety of drug-related charges in federal court in Seattle last week. Ars Technica has more background on the case and Sadler’s involvement.

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