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Honolulu bookeeper pleads guilty to defrauding clients

A 35-year-old Honolulu bookkeeper pleaded guilty today to six counts of wire fraud and eight counts of money laundering in a scheme to obtain money from his clients.

Paul Henri Marie Harleman is scheduled for sentencing in U.S. District Court in August.

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 April arrest, Harleman transferred more than $1 million in a series of payments disguised as payroll from two of his clients to Harleman’s limited liability company.

Harleman moved the money from his personal checking account to a personal investment account, resulting in the money laundering charges, according to records.

“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. “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.”

Harleman faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the wire fraud counts and up to 10 years in prison 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.

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