U.S. Department of Justice
Gary Harmon, of Akron, was convicted last Thursday of attempting to reclaim millions of dollars in bitcoin that were being held by the government. As the photo suggests, Harmon spent part of those funds showing off at nightclubs in Miami and Northeast Ohio.
After laundering millions of dollars in stolen Bitcoin currency, souping up his Lamborghini, "making it rain" at strip clubs in Ohio and Florida and splurging on luxury real estate, Gary Harmon was sentenced to four years and three months in prison last Thursday, the Department of Justice
His brother, Larry Dean Harmon, was arrested in February 2020 for running a money laundering service on the Dark Web called Helix. Gary Harmon attempted to use keys to Helix's wallets to re-transfer the funds — 712 Bitcoins — that were seized by the FBI and the IRS' Cyber Crime Unit in Washington, D.C.
"The defendant’s actions in this case cannot be dismissed as a momentary lapse of judgment or a crime of opportunity," U.S. attorneys wrote in a sentencing memo filed in Federal court April 13th. Gary Harmon "sat on the cryptocurrency for months, with ample time to return the funds—whether by coming clean to the government directly, relaying the funds through his brother or his brother’s attorney, or by anonymously remitting the assets to the government.
When Gary Harmon was interrogated about the recovery attempt, he told agents, “if I took it, why wouldn’t I take it all,” the memo said, "and stated that he received a thumb drive from his brother containing partial recovery seed phrases and had flushed the thumb drive down a toilet."
click to enlarge
U.S. Department of Justice
Screenshot showing Harmon's $100,000 withdrawal in single dollars, among other party plans.
In August 2021, Larry Harmon pleaded guilty to operating a money laundering service for, the memo said, those entrenched in "illegal goods and services." By charging a 2.5 percent fee per transaction, Larry accumulated 4,877 bitcoin in 16 wallets.
In sum, the DOJ determined Helix laundered $311 million on behalf of its customers. Because Gary Harmon had knowledge of the keys needed to access those funds on his brother's Treznor device—a sort of safe for Bitcoin enthusiasts—he was in a position to effectively recreate the wallets seized by government agents.
By day, it seems, Gary Harmon penchant for crypto seemed to contribute to an honest career in tech.
According to a resumé posted on LinkedIn
, Harmon worked at CoinNinja
, an Akron-based startup that aids in Bitcoin wallet security and management. He graduated from Kent State University in 2014,with a degree in exercise science.
"Highly motivated junior software engineer with two years of experience in both front-end and back-end web development," Harmon wrote on LinkedIn
, suggesting he could "help high performing teams build disruptive solutions."
By the summer of 2021, months after his brother's conviction, Gary Harmon indulged in a high-rolling lifestyle. According to the DOJ, in one weekend in June, Harmon spent $25,000 to book a five-hour "whale room" at a Miami nightclub, put down $15,000 in dancer fees and bought $100,000 in single-dollar bills using the Bitcoin transfers. (Those he'd use to fill a bathtub, setting the stage for the photo at the top of this story.)
But he was worried: "Anxiety just went thru the rough [sic
]," Gary Harmon texted a friend on June 14, 2021.
"About what?" the friend said.
"Just blowing money bring to [sic
] much heat to me."
Harmon was indicted 14 days later, on June 28, 2021, on eight counts of money laundering, one count of obstruction and one count of removing property to prevent seizure. He was arrested exactly a month later.
Following the DOJ's recommendation to the court that Harmon be sentenced for "51 to 63 months," he is set to finish his prison term in the summer of 2027.
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