Articles Posted in Money Laundering

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William Cloud believed in the American dream of home ownership. He worked to make buying a home easy for people in his community.

He wanted to make buying a house easy, even if it would be the second or third house that a person would own.

1389529_house.jpgTo make sure the houses he was helping people buy were up to snuff, he’d buy them first and do some work on them. He’d then sell them – or, using the government’s language – he’d “flip” them to the people he was helping to become real estate investors.

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Perhaps one of the most celebrated charging strategies by the federal government was to investigate and charge Al Capone with tax evasion. The feds weren’t really after him for tax crimes – they wanted Al Capone because he was a mobster. Yet by charging the tax offense, the federal government was able to get a conviction that stuck.

Yet the government runs a risk when it charges an auxiliary crime – one that isn’t the main offense that they’re targeting but, rather, something that derives from it.

The Fifth Circuit’s recent opinion in United States v. Harris illustrates this point.

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It’s money laundering week here at the Federal Criminal Appeals Blog. Yesterday, I wrote about Walter Blair, the lawyer who was convicted for performing extra-legal services.

Today, the Third Circuit issued a happier decision (though not for the government) in United States v. Richardson.

The Dream of Home Ownership

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Walter Blair was a full-service lawyer. He received a phone call from a woman who wanted to hire a criminal defense lawyer. The woman’s name was Ms. Nicely. Ms. Nicely had a relatively intricate problem.

The Safe Full of Money

As it happened, she was in possession of a safe that contained a substantial amount of money that belonged to Mr. Rankine. Mr. Rankine was a drug-dealer. The money was drug money. Mr. Rankine’s girlfriend had been found murdered, and Mr. Rankine was missing.