The US government seized over 712 stolen Bitcoins in a separate criminal case after an Ohio man accused of stealing them pleaded guilty to the charges. According to the US Department of Justice (DOJ), 31-year-old Gary James Harmon has pleaded guilty to “unlawfully stealing” Bitcoin. The DOJ said, “Harmon pleaded guilty to wire fraud and obstruction of justice for unlawfully taking more than 712 bitcoin that had been seized by law enforcement and was subject to forfeiture in the pending criminal prosecution of Larry Harmon.”
According to a report by Bitcoin.com, Harmon has agreed to forfeit cryptocurrency and multiple other properties under his possession from fraudulent practices. He will also forfeit more than 647.42 Bitcoin, 2.14 Ethereum, and about 17,404,400.64 Dogecoin as part of his plea.
Authorities have stated that due to the increase in market prices, the total value of these forfeitable properties is estimated to be more than $12 million.
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All the stolen Bitcoin was kept safe in a Trezor hardware wallet. Later, the US government seized it after arresting Larry Harmon in February 2020. The device was kept secured in an Internal Revenue Service evidence box as the authorities did not access the coins because of its complicated security issues.
In August 2021, Larry Harmon did plead guilty to charges of money laundering and pertaining conspiracy allegations. He was facing multiple charges in connection with his operation of Helix, which is a darknet crypto money laundering practice.
Commenting on the matter, the DOJ said, “Harman admitted that Helix indulged in the laundering of more than 250,000 Bitcoin that was valued at over $300 million during transactions.” This was done for customers and the largest volume came from darknet markets and industries.
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The law enforcement also seized a hardware wallet with illegal proceeds from the Helix operation among many other assets. The DOJ said that Gary Harman did use the credentials of his brother to store and transfer over 712 Bitcoins, which were valued at about $4.8 million. He has also been accused of laundering the required proceeds through some online mixers to use them for his expenditure.
On the Gary Harmon matter, the DOJ said, “The wire fraud charge carries a statutory maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.” He could also face charges of obstruction of justice that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
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