'The Curious Case of Robert George': Money-Laundering Lawyer's Conviction Upheld - U.S. First Circuit
U.S. First Circuit - The FindLaw 1st Circuit Court of Appeals News and Information Blog

'The Curious Case of Robert George': Money-Laundering Lawyer's Conviction Upheld

Robert George was a criminal lawyer turned criminal lawyer. At a Dunkin' Donuts one day (this was Boston, after all), he happened to run into an ex-felon whom he once represented, Ronald Dardinski. Dardinski had gone to prison after pleading guilty in a scam in which he "sold" repossessed cars that weren't his, then kept $750,000 from unwitting victims.

George had initially represented Dardinski, but Dardinski found a different lawyer. George casually asked what happened with the money. Dardinski replied that he had "a bunch of it hidden." Then George -- a lawyer, mind you -- offered to launder the money for him. Dardinski agreed, and then contacted a DEA agent for whom he had been an informant in the past. George started laundering the money, Dardinski recorded all their conversations, yadda yadda yadda, and now George is in federal prison for money laundering and conspiracy.

George appealed his conviction to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed his conviction in a very entertaining opinion.

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Sufficiency of the Evidence

As defendants do when money laundering is at issue, George claimed that the government hadn't proved that he'd agreed to launder money that he knew came from fraud or drug trafficking. That contention appeared to be flatly contradicted by a record in which George agreed to launder money that he knew had come from fraud, as he had represented Dardinski before. He also cheerfully agreed when Dardinski suggested that he needed help hiding "coke" money, too.

What's a Little Fraud Among Friends?

George also claimed that he wasn't an aider and abetter in the money-laundering scheme because he told Dardinski one time that "he wanted nothing to do with the deal" between Dardinski and Michael Hansen, George's mortgage broker who was actually laundering the money. But, of course, the deniability here wasn't plausible at all, as it was George who had created the relationship between Dardinski and Hansen. George was also caught on tape talking about arranging meetings between them, but later told Dardinski, "I'm not involved," as though that magically disclaimed liability.

A Little Too Coincidental

When the trial occurred back in 2012, it was a bit of a sensation. Boston's WBUR radio reported that Dardinski caused a bit of a stir, as he was paid $28,000 by the DEA to be an informant in this case. Also suspect was his chance encounter with George, who he believed owed him money. Dardinski told his girlfriend that if he ever saw George again, "I'm going to smash his head in." It could be that Dardinski wanted some revenge, but even if he did, George happily agreed to launder Dardinski's money -- and then some.

If you decide you want to enter the lucrative world of money laundering, don't. And remember that when you're laundering dirty money, saying "I have nothing to do with this" isn't really going to help.

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