White Collar Crime

Defense attorney convicted in $1M federal money laundering case

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A Baltimore defense attorney, who allegedly helped a longtime client and convicted drug trafficker funnel money through his law firm, has been found guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

A federal jury convicted Kenneth Wendell Ravenell, 61, of Monkton, Maryland, on Dec. 28, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. He was acquitted of additional charges related to racketeering, narcotics and obstruction but faces up to 20 years in prison when he returns to court for sentencing in May.

According to the Baltimore Sun, federal prosecutors say Ravenell helped Richard Byrd, a Jamaican national who is now serving 26 years in prison on drug conspiracy charges, launder more than $1 million through Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, where he worked as a partner. Ravenell allegedly kept some of the money as compensation and made investments on behalf of Byrd to conceal the source of his funds.

Byrd testified for the prosecution during Ravenell’s three-week trial, claiming that he delivered bags of cash to Ravenell and asked him to invest it in a Maryland casino development, the Baltimore Sun reports. Ravenell did not testify, but his defense attorneys argued that he thought that the money came from Byrd’s marketing and events business.

A year after Ravenell was indicted in September 2019, a grand jury also brought charges against veteran attorney Joshua Treem and private investigator Sean Gordon. According to the Baltimore Sun, federal prosecutors accused Treem, a partner at Brown, Goldstein & Levy, of obstructing justice after he allegedly sent a federal judge a misleading letter about the relationship between Ravenell and Byrd.

Gordon, who along with Treem was hired as part of Ravenell’s defense team, was accused of signing a false affidavit that allegedly made the same assertions as the letter Treem sent to the judge.

While Treem and Gordon were acquitted Dec. 28, their defense attorneys criticized the U.S. attorney’s office for bringing the case against them.

Robert Trout, who represented Treem, told the Baltimore Sun that the prosecution of his client “was an utter failure of judgment by the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland.”

Geremy Kamens, Gordon’s attorney, told the publication that “this case went off the rails a long time ago. … These people were defending a client; they were not committing a crime.”

Treem also provided comments to the Baltimore Sun, citing the danger that the case could have posed to other criminal defense attorneys.

“It was threatening the way we do business, how we deal with our clients and how we deal with cases,” he said. “The jury’s verdict is loud and clear: This is not the way business should be done if you are a prosecutor.”

The U.S. attorney’s office did not provide additional comments.

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