Ohio man sentenced to prison for stealing confiscated bitcoins
An Ohio man has been sentenced to 51 months in federal prison for stealing more than 712 bitcoins that were subject to forfeiture in the case of Helix admin.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, bitcoins stolen by 31-year-old Gary James Harmon of Cleveland were confiscated during the investigation of his brother, Larry Dean Harmon, creator and administrator of Helix, the now-defunct bitcoin darknet tumblr.
Larry Harmon admitted that he helped darknet users launder money by running Helix from 2014 to 2017. Helix helped its users transfer more than 350,000 bitcoins worth more than $300 million at the time of the transactions. Federal agents arrested Larry Harmon on February 6, 2020, and seized several hardware cryptocurrency wallets. Investigators were unable to gain access to the wallets. In April 2020, shortly after Larry Harmon was released pending trial, Gary Harmon reportedly returned the wallets seized from his brother. He then transferred a total of 712,6003 bitcoins in eight transactions to wallets under his control.
These transactions were discovered by investigators monitoring the seized wallets, resulting in an emergency hearing on April 28 at which Larry Harmon was ordered to give investigators access to the wallets. Investigators gained access to 16 wallets and seized a total of more than 4,168 bitcoins from eight wallets. Investigators found that the other eight wallets had been emptied.
In August 2020, Gary Harmon began transferring the bitcoins he stole through undisclosed bitcoin makers. He also began cashing out and making large purchases. Gary Harmon was charged in a 10-count indictment filed on June 28, 2021. He pleaded guilty to fraud and obstruction of justice on January 6, 2023.
In addition to four years and three months in federal prison, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell gave Gary Harmon three years of supervised release and ordered him to forfeit 647.41 bitcoins, 2.14 Ethereum, 17,404,400.64 dogecoin and other assets. Larry Harmon pleaded guilty to money laundering in August 2021 and agreed to forfeit more than 4,400 bitcoins. A date for his sentencing hearing has not yet been set.