White-Collar Crime

Former lawyer gets time after conviction in money-laundering sting

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Telling a former Connecticut attorney that he is “a better person than these crimes say you are,” a federal judge on Thursday sentenced Ralph Crozier to two and a half years in prison for conspiring and attempting to launder a client’s funds.

That was significantly less than the 87 months recommended by federal sentencing guidelines and the six-year minimum sentence sought by the prosecutor in the case, reports the Connecticut Post.

Crozier apologized in court and Crozier’s lawyer, Michael Hillis, described the 63-year-old as a loving dad who has taken care of not only his own children but his girlfriend’s three sons. Hillis said prison could exacerbate health issues for his client, who recently had a knee replaced and suffers from sleep apnea.

Representing oxycodone dealer Bruce Yazdzik led to Crozier’s downfall. Seeking to reduce a 10-year sentence in a drug case, Yazdzik turned on others, including his attorney, and told authorities that Crozier had laundered $30,000 by helping Yazdik invest it in a solar energy company, the article reports. The government said Crozier funneled the money through his own attorney trust account to a lawyer for the energy company. The money was paid in amounts of less than $10,000, so that tax-reporting requirements wouldn’t apply.

Yazdzik’s mother wore a wire for the U.S. Justice Department’s Drug Enforcement Administration and delivered $11,000 in government cash to Crozier, resulting in his 2013 arrest. At trial, the attorney said he was going to put the money in Yazdzik’s prison commissary account.

Crozier voluntarily gave up his law license following his conviction. Hillis said he plans to appeal Crozier’s conviction.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Lawyer guilty in client money-laundering case; his own words at trial helped convict him, juror says”

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