Individuals in New York and around the country face money laundering charges when prosecutors claim that they helped criminals conceal money that they earned illegally. Lawmakers first took action to prevent money laundering in 1970 when Congress passed the Bank Secrecy Act, and efforts to contain the practice went international in 1989 with the formation of the Financial Action Task Force.
Money laundering tactics
Money launderers use various tactics depending how much cash is involved. When amounts are relatively modest, the money is sometimes deposited in bank or brokerage accounts. This kind of money laundering is risky as financial institutions must report deposits of $10,000 or more to the authorities. Larger sums are sometimes smuggled abroad, but they are more often laundered by running them through the books of a business purchased or controlled specifically for this purpose. This is why investigators pay close attention to any cash-based businesses connected to criminal suspects or their associates.
Prosecuting money laundering cases
Money laundering cases can be difficult for juries to follow because the laws are complex. To avoid these risks, prosecutors often offer individuals accused of breaking money laundering laws attractive sentencing offers to secure guilty pleas. In February 2020, a 61-year-old Ohio man was sentenced to 42 months in a federal prison after entering into a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. The man admitted to operating a website that laundered $19 million in drug profits, and he entered into the deal to avoid spending up to 30 years behind bars.
Negotiating plea agreements
Prosecutors take several factors into consideration when they determine the appropriate sentences for white-collar crimes like money laundering. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may be aware of this, and they could encourage prosecutors to take a more moderate position by citing mitigating circumstances such as a willingness to make restitution, prior good behavior and sincere regret.