Gary James Harmon, a 31-year-old man from Cleveland, Ohio, has been sentenced to four years and three months in prison for stealing more than 712 Bitcoin that were subject to forfeiture in a then-pending criminal case.
According to court documents, Harmon stole the cryptocurrency from his brother Larry Dean Harmon’s operation of Helix, a dark web-based cryptocurrency money laundering service known as a “mixer” or “tumbler.”
Larry Dean Harmon was arrested in February 2020, and law enforcement seized various assets, including a cryptocurrency storage device containing illegal proceeds generated through the operation of Helix, which was subject to forfeiture in the criminal case. However, law enforcement could not recover Bitcoin stored on the device due to the device’s security features.
Knowing that the government was seeking to recover the Bitcoin stored on the seized device for forfeiture in Larry Harmon’s criminal case, Gary Harmon used his brother’s credentials to recreate the Bitcoin wallets stored on the device and covertly transferred more than 712 Bitcoin, valued at approximately $4.8 million at the time, to his own wallets, stealing those funds and obstructing the pending criminal forfeiture proceeding.
Gary Harmon further laundered the proceeds through two online Bitcoin mixer services before using the laundered bitcoins to finance large purchases and other expenditures.
In August 2021, Larry Harmon pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy concerning his case. Gary Harmon agreed to the forfeiture of cryptocurrencies and other properties derived from the fraudulently taken proceeds, including more than 647.41 Bitcoin (BTC), 2.14 Ethereum (ETH), and 17,404,400.64 Dogecoin (DOGE). Due to the increase in market prices, the total value of these forfeitable properties exceeds $20 million.