The owner of Bitcoin mixer Helix and resident of Ohio, Larry Dean Harmon, has pleaded guilty to a one-count conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. Previously, U.S. prosecutors alleged that the Bitcoin mixer laundered more than $ 300 million.
Bitcoin mixer operator pleads guilty
Harmon pleaded guilty in United States District Court for the District of Colombia on Wednesday, August 17, 2021. According to a press release from the United States Department of Justice (DoJ), the Ohio resident was operating a money laundering service darknet money.
The defendant launched a bitcoin blending service in 2014, which operated until 2017. A Bitcoin blender or cup masks source cryptocurrency transactions by blending them with other “coins”, making their difficult traceability.
During the time that Harmon was in business, the Bitcoin mixer would have processed around 354,468 BTC, valued at over $ 300 million at the time, but worth $ 15.9 billion at the current price. bitcoin. However, US officials said a significant percentage of funds came from Darknet markets.
Harmon worked with AlphaBay, a darknet market giant that operated between 2014 and its seizure in 2017. AlphaBay, along with other darknet markets, used the defendant’s bitcoin mixing services to launder funds from the defendant. illicit activities.
The 36-year-old Ohio resident was later arrested in February 2020. According to US authorities, Harmon used the bitcoin mixer only to conceal criminal darknet transactions from law enforcement.
Later in October, the United States’ Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) sentenced Harmon to a civil fine of $ 60 million.
Commenting on the latest development, Steven M. D’Antuono, deputy director in charge of the FBI, said:
Harmon admitted that he had conspired with Darknet vendors to launder bitcoins generated by drug trafficking and other illegal activities. Today’s guilty plea demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to infiltrate and shut down cryptocurrency money laundering networks that support cybercriminal businesses.
Harmon to Face Prison Sentences, Fines and Forfeitures
While the date of Harmon’s conviction has yet to be announced, the accused could face up to 20 years in prison. In addition, the operator of the bitcoin mixer would pay a mandatory restitution, a fine of $ 500,000 or double the value of the property involved in the transaction, and “a supervised release period not exceeding three years.”
Additionally, part of Harmon’s plea deal includes the confiscation of over 4,400 BTC worth nearly $ 200 million. The Ohio man would also hand over the foreclosed properties involved in the money laundering operation.
Meanwhile, the case marks the first time the owner of a bitcoin mixer has been sued. According to Calvin A. Shivers, deputy director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, the law enforcement agency is dedicated to hunting down criminals who think they can hide their ill-gotten funds using services like Helix.
FREE Binance Futures 50 USDT Voucher: Use this link to sign up and get 10% discount on fees and 50 USDT when trading 500 USDT (limited offer).
PrimeXBT Special Offer: Use this link to register and enter the code POTATO50 to get a 50% free bonus on any deposit up to 1 BTC.