Criminal Justice

Longtime defense lawyer takes plea in Secret Service money-laundering sting

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A prominent Missouri criminal defense lawyer has taken a plea in a federal money-laundering conspiracy case that arose from a Secret Service sting, effectively ending his legal career.

Ronald E. Partee admitted in federal court in Kansas on Wednesday that he agreed to help hide the source of what he thought was proceeds from illegal drug operations, pleading guilty to two counts of money-laundering, the Kansas City Star reports.

Actually, the money came from an undercover federal agent working as part of a Secret Service operation. It initially targeted a co-defendant who operated a credit-counseling business marketed to clients who were in bankruptcy. The agent, who posed as a marijuana dealer, entered into a contract to purchase a business owned by Partee and the co-defendant, the Associated Press reports.

Prosecutors have agreed to recommend a five-year prison term for Partee.

At a May 25 meeting, Partee discussing with the undercover agent techniques for storing marijuana, drug-courier risks and how to transport money to pay drug suppliers, according to court records.

Partee’s lawyer, Gary W. Hart, said in a written statement that his client has served as a distinguished member of the state bar for decades. “But his errors of judgment in a small-scale money laundering case, in which he did not receive even a dime in illegal money, have now cost him his career and his freedom for up to five years.”

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