An international tale of money laundering, cryptocurrency and the dark web of illegal guns and drugs may have deep roots in Greater Akron.
A Bath resident with a bitcoin-focused business in downtown Akron was secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., in December for conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and transmitting money without a license, court records show.
Larry Dean Harmon, who is in his 30s, was arrested in Akron last Thursday and the indictment was unsealed. If convicted, Harmon could face 14 to 17½ years in prison, according to court records.
Federal prosecutors in Ohio asked a judge to keep Harmon in custody, saying he is a flight risk, a jet-set multimillionaire with cryptocurrency he can access anywhere in the world.
On Wednesday, a federal judge granted prosecutors’ request to hold Harmon and remanded him to custody in Washington, D.C.
His lawyer, who is based in Houston, Texas, did not immediately return a message.
In Akron, Harmon does business in an office on the floors above a restaurant at the corner of East Market and High streets.
His Akron company, Coin Ninja, aims to accelerate global use of bitcoin as currency. It does not appear to be tied up in the legal action against Harmon.
The indictment, and subsequent court documents filed by prosecutors in Cleveland, focus on Grams and Helix, two other defunct businesses they say Harmon ran.
Grams in 2014 was described as the “Google of the the dark net” by “Wired” magazine.
The dark web is a hidden part of the internet that isn’t indexed by conventional search engines.
The defunct site made it as easy for internet shoppers around the world to find and buy illegal guns and drugs on the deep web as it is for the rest of us to find books and sweatshirts on the regular web.
Grams’ online companion service was called Helix. Federal prosecutors said in court records that Helix was a bitcoin money laundering service that, for a fee, let customers send anonymous bitcoins.
“Harmon advertised Helix to customers on the Darknet as a way to conceal transactions from law enforcement,” prosecutors said in court records.
And it was a profitable venture.
Helix laundered at least 354,468 bitcoins, the equivalent to about $311 million, federal prosecutors allege.
Harmon charged a 2.5% fee, which would be about 8,900 bitcoins worth close to $80 million at today’s prices, prosecutors said.
Harmon shuttered Grams and Helix, court records said, after a federal crackdown on the dark web.