An Ohio native allegedly stole millions of dollars in bitcoin from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 31-year-old Gary Harmon has recently pled guilty to one count of wire fraud and a separate count of obstruction of justice after allegedly stealing more than 700 individual bitcoin units from the agency.
Gary Harmon Pleads Guilty to Crypto Theft and Wire Fraud
The bitcoins in question were taken by law enforcement agents from Gary’s brother Larry Harmon, who ran a darknet crypto mixing service called Helix. Larry was arrested in 2020 and his money was confiscated soon after.
In 2021, Larry Harmon pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money. He was ordered to pay more than $60 million in penalties to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). He also entered a plea deal that required him to forfeit all the gains he’d earned and to serve as an active informant for government agencies. It’s unknown if his plea deal includes a prison sentence.
It seems that while Larry was working with the government to try and rid the world of future crime lords, his brother sought to take Larry’s place in the dark underworld of crypto fraud and take back all the digital units that had been confiscated. Gary was initially employed by Coin Ninja, one of Larry’s companies, and had been stealing digital assets from his brother’s wallets.
It is estimated that he took money from these wallets on at least eight separate occasions in April of 2020. These individual Trezor wallets which held the money that was later stolen were stored in a locker run by the IRS. The money was transferred to his own wallets and amounted to 712 bitcoins, which would be worth just shy of $5.5 million units at the time of writing.
Prosecutors said that Gary held the innocence card for a long time, claiming that he had never taken money from Larry’s wallets even when they presented him with evidence clearly showing that they knew of his activities. They also say that prior to taking all the money, Gary lived a very limited lifestyle and was collecting unemployment checks after his brother was arrested and he had been laid off from Coin Ninja.
Living on the Dole to Living It Up
To help with Larry’s trial, Gary said he had to set up a GoFundMe account to cover the family’s legal expenses and attorney fees. The page has since been taken down.
Once he had garnered the money from his brother’s accounts, he used roughly $1.2 million to purchase a new luxury condo in the city of Cleveland in his native Ohio. He also spent loads on private jet flights and on strip clubs. He has agreed to forfeit roughly $12 million in crypto but still faces 40 years in prison.
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