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Home Hawai'i Statewide News Honolulu Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to $1.2 Million Fraud and Money Laundering

Honolulu Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to $1.2 Million Fraud and Money Laundering

by Thunda

Paul Henri Marie Harleman, 35, of Honolulu, appeared today before United States District Judge Derrick K. Watson and pleaded guilty to six counts of wire fraud and eight counts of money laundering contained in a federal indictment. Harleman has been detained since his arrest on April 23, 2021. Harleman is scheduled for sentencing on August 2, 2022. 

According to court records, while Harleman was working as a contract bookkeeper, he devised two fraud schemes to obtain money from three of his clients. In the first scheme, from July 2018 to May 2020, Harleman formed a limited liability company with a name nearly identical to the name of a significant vendor to one of his clients, and then charged the client’s credit card for more than $146,000 in fraudulent invoices. In the second scheme, from September 2019 to his arrest, Harleman transferred more than $1,064,000 in a series of payments disguised as payroll from two of his clients to Harleman’s limited liability company. Harleman moved money fraudulently obtained from his three clients from his personal checking account to a personal investment account, resulting in the money laundering charges.

“This indictment arose from the concerted efforts of our federal law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute financial crimes occurring in our district,” stated United States Attorney Clare E. Connors. “As reflected in the plea colloquy today in court, the defendant intentionally defrauded his clients and devised a scheme to conceal and further his illegal conduct. Our office will continue to identify and hold accountable those who commit such integrity crimes against our community members.”

“Because finances play such an integral part to our wellbeing, we place our utmost trust in accountants, bookkeepers, and other financial professionals to safeguard our financial security,” said IRS Criminal Investigation (“IRS:CI”) Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin, of the Seattle Field Office. “When these individuals whom we have entrusted with our essential welfare decide to utterly betray this trust, hardworking individuals and whole communities suffer the consequences. IRS:CI understands how devastating financial crimes are, and we are committed to investigating and bringing to justice those like Mr. Harleman who care for nothing but their own greed.”

“Mr. Harleman was motivated by greed as he heartlessly stole thousands of dollars from small businesses and non-profit organizations,” said Special Agent in Charge John F. Tobon of Homeland Security Investigations Honolulu (“HSI”). “This guilty plea should send the message that HSI and our law enforcement partners will relentlessly pursue anyone who intends to hurt the people in our community for profit.”

As a result of his guilty pleas, Harleman faces up to 20 years imprisonment on each of the wire fraud counts and up to 10 years imprisonment on each of the money laundering counts, as well as a fine of up to $250,000 on each count, plus a term of supervised release up to three years. The court must also order restitution to the victims and forfeiture of the fraud proceeds and the property involved in the money laundering.

The case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Craig S. Nolan is prosecuting the case.

The case originated with the United States Attorney’s Financial Crimes Task Force, which marshals federal resources to combat financial crimes victimizing residents, businesses, and non-profits in the District of Hawaii. Led by the United States Attorney’s Office, the task force includes Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, Federal Reserve Office of Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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