During a bench trial, a judge found Hardin guilty of 11 counts of creating false obligations and 10 counts of mail fraud.
The feds say Hardin created and issued worthless "bonded Promissory Notes." But Hardin claimed that the notes were backed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and could be used to pay off debts. They weren't and couldn't. And Hardin wasn't authorized to make them or issue 'em.
Hardin issued more than 2,000 of the notes between September 2008 and September 2009 that were supposedly worth $100 million. Hardin did this for himself, his girlfriend, his daughter and many more people (he'd charge them $100 and up for the notes). He claimed that he was authorized to do so because he was a private banker.
Hardin made the notes on his computer and used them to pay off student loans, to buy a car and a house, and to buy other personal items and pay off debts. He ran his private bank out of his home.
The feds say Hardin would mail the notes to creditors along with documents, such as a letter from Hardin saying the account had been paid in full by the note. When the creditors refused the notes, Hardin would threaten to sue.
Former Pitch writer Peter Rugg profiled Hardin ("Don't Tread on Him"). This all started with a 1977 Corvette that the U.S. government confiscated.