The federal money laundering statute makes it a crime to conduct any financial transaction with the proceeds of illegal activity. Concealing the illicit proceeds of criminal activity is a federal offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1). The statute covers the offense of conducting a financial transaction to promote or carry out a specific illegal activity. It also includes transactions that are designed to conceal the nature or ownership of illegally gained proceeds. In other words, money laundering is the act of concealing funds received through some unlawful activity. It is commonly prosecuted in Miami and throughout South Florida and other parts of the country in connection with a vast array of federal drug offenses and white collar offenses.
It was originally often used in drug trafficking offenses where drug dealer hides his drug profits in seemingly legitimate business in order to keep money earned from the lucrative drug business. The purpose of the law then and now is to prohibit drug dealers from turning dirty money into clean money by converting the illegal proceeds into legitimate assets. In a typical money laundering scheme, the drug proceeds are pumped into a business through phony sales and then uses to pay overhead. The laundered money is then returned to the business owners as seemingly legitimate business profits. In this way, the legitimate business is hiding the illegally earned money and showing it as legitimate earnings. A money laundering operation allows the drug dealer to then continue his illegal business by using his laundered funds to continue funding illicit drug trafficking activities.
Another way offenders launder illegal money is by purchasing assets such as cars, boats, houses, jewelry, and other valuables. These can then be sold and turned into legitimate cash.
Prosecution for money laundering is now used in connection with a vast array of white collar and economic offenses. It is committed anytime money from illegal gains is concealed to avoid detection or the proceeds are used to acquire assets and property.
Money laundering activity is often associated with health care fraud and mortgage fraud schemes. An example is a doctor who commits fraud against Medicare by submitting false claims for medical care or medical equipment that was not needed by patients. The money paid to the doctor by Medicare for these false claims is then used to purchase a commercial property, which becomes profitable from the rental income. The doctor is money laundering by acquiring properties and assets through the illegal Medicare fraud activity.
An indictment for health care fraud or some other economic crime will include money laundering counts for the financial transactions. The offense carries a 20 year maximum penalty under the statute and the sentencing guidelines range will depend upon the amount of money laundered or may depend on the nature of the underlying crime.
If you or someone you know has been arrested, is being investigated, or is accused of committing the offense of money laundering, you need an attorney to represent you who has the experience and expertise in criminal law to handle the problem. Ken Swartz, one of the top Miami criminal defense attorneys in the state, is ready to come to your defense.