Ohio man sentenced to over four years for stealing $21 million in Bitcoin from brother
Ohio man, Gary James Harmon, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison for stealing 712 Bitcoins that belonged to his brother, according to the US Department of Justice. The stolen cryptocurrency is worth over $21 million at today’s prices. Harmon recreated Bitcoin wallets using his brother’s details to send himself the currency from a seized device. In addition, he laundered the Bitcoin by sending it to online mixing services.
Harmon admitted his criminal charges earlier this year, including one count each of wire fraud and obstruction of justice. His brother was sentenced for operating a coin-mixing service called Helix, which processed 350,000 Bitcoins between 2014 and 2017. Larry Dean Harmon, the brother in question, pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy and charges of improper money transmission. Harmon was penalized with $60 million, and law enforcement seized several assets from him as well.
The case serves as another example of the US government’s crackdown on cryptocurrency mixing services. Recently, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Tornado Cash because of its links to North Korean state-sponsored hacking group Lazarus Group, while several other similar sites have been banned outright. Coin mixers act as intermediaries and obscure the origin and destination of the cryptocurrency.
Though supporters of coin mixers argue it’s essential to maintain privacy in cryptocurrency transactions, government officials tend to view them negatively. According to officials, coin mixers are beneficial precisely to mainly hackers and other malevolent actors.
As the court battle resumes around Tornado Cash, a developer and co-founder of the platform, Alexey Pertsev, has requested bail after spending nine months in detention. According to him, he missed out on many of the recent events and rumors concerning cryptocurrencies.
[h/t André Beganski]