Criminal Justice

Former BigLaw partner, an alleged 'prolific money launderer,' sentenced to 7 years in prison

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A former BigLaw partner has been sentenced to seven years in prison for laundering $2.1 million through multiple accounts, including his attorney trust accounts.

Raymond Juiwen Ho, a 48-year-old Washington, D.C., patent lawyer, was sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty in October to money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to a Department of Justice press release.

A sentencing memorandum called Ho a “prolific money launderer” for conspirators who created fake email accounts and persuaded victims to transfer money to them.

Ho “was an attorney who had no qualms, so long as the cash was real and he got his cut,” according to the sentencing memorandum filed by federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Ho became an intellectual property partner at age 33 at Arent Fox, report and the Washington Post. He also once worked at Venable and Hogan Lovells, he said in a court document setting out his position on sentencing. His most recent firm was IP Law Leaders.

Ho surrendered his law licenses in Georgia and Washington, D.C., as part of the case. He was caught in a sting operation launched in November 2015.

“Raymond Juiwen Ho seemingly had it all,” the sentencing memo said. “After emigrating from Taiwan at a young age, he excelled in U.S. schools, earned two legal degrees, practiced law at some of the largest law firms in the country, and even opened his own patent law firm.

“The defendant, however, was not the upstart attorney his résumé would suggest. Rather, from at least March 2013 to February 2017, the defendant engaged in a large-scale money laundering scheme.”

Before getting involved in money laundering, Ho experienced a significant decrease in compensation and began searching for entrepreneurial opportunities, his lawyers told the court. He tried ventures that included raising eels for export to Asia, tuna fishing, brokering the sale of distressed banks, selling train rails for scrap metal, recycling copper, and brokering the sale of a Chinese restaurant in Maryland.

The only venture that was successful was serving as paymaster by holding funds as a disinterested party. In 2013, he was introduced to a person known as “Chief Onwa,” though Ho never met him in person. Chief Onwa asked Ho to cash two checks. Ho deposited the checks and wired the money to Onwa before finding out they were fraudulent.

In a bid to recover the money, Ho “foolishly agreed to facilitate additional transactions” for Chief Onwa, the court document said. “Before long,” Ho’s lawyers wrote. “Ho became involved in a set of fraudulent schemes that was larger than he could have ever anticipated.”

Ho eventually introduced two others to the Chief Onwa transactions, including an IP lawyer in Washington, D.C., who was not identified in the court documents.

During the government’s sting operation, Ho was told he was working for people smuggling people illegally into the United States and selling rifles.

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