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Man Pleads Guilty to Stealing Bitcoin ‘Seized’ by US Government

Man Pleads Guilty to Stealing Bitcoin 'Seized' by US Government

A guy from Ohio has admitted to stealing more than 712 Bitcoins that were “seized” by the American authorities in a different criminal case. As part of his plea deal, he agreed to steal some Bitcoin, Ether, and Dogecoin. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the total worth of these forfeitable assets surpasses $12 million because of the rise in market prices.

The Stolen BTC

A 31-year-old Ohio man named Gary James Harmon admitted Friday to “unlawfully taking” Bitcoin that had been “seized” by the government as part of his brother’s ongoing legal action, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ stated:

“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 the DOJ, Gary Harmon stipulated in his plea deal that he would give up “cryptocurrencies and other properties resulting from the illegally stolen earnings, including more than 647.41 Bitcoin (BTC), 2.14 Ethereum (ETH), and 17,404,400.64 Dogecoin (DOGE),” among other things. The total value of these forfeitable properties surpasses $12 million due to the rise in market values.

The federal government confiscated a Trezor hardware wallet belonging to Larry Harmon, who was detained in February 2020, that contained the stolen Bitcoin. Larry Harmon was the subject of the seizure. The device was kept in an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) evidence locker. The DOJ stated that the complicated security of the device prevented the federal authorities from seizing the coins.

Larry Harmon pled guilty in August 2021 to money laundering conspiracy in connection with “his operation of Helix, a darknet-based cryptocurrency money laundering service, known as a ‘mixer’ or ‘tumbler,’” the DOJ noted, noting:

“As Harmon later admitted, Helix laundered over 350,000 bitcoin — valued at over $300 million at the time of the transactions — on behalf of customers, with the largest volume coming from darknet markets.”

Law authorities detained him and seized a number of items, including a hardware wallet containing the unlawful revenues from his Helix business.

Gary Harmon, however, used his brother’s login information to move more than 712 BTC, worth almost $4.8 million at the time, from his brother’s impounded computer to his own Bitcoin wallets in April 2020 while the government was still attempting to access the seized Bitcoin. According to the DOJ, he then used the money to support his personal expenses after laundering it via two internet mixers.

“The wire fraud charge carries a statutory maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison; the obstruction of justice charge carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.”

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