Money laundering is a serious federal crime that could result in years in prison—and that’s on top of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. If you or a loved one has been charged with money laundering, put an experienced defense attorney on your side.
Attorney Frank Schwartz has been defending clients in court for well over two decades. In this time, he has successfully taken more than 100 cases to federal and state courts. Backed by his professional experience and knowledge, our firm can develop an effective defense against your criminal charges.
When you work with our team, you can expect to work directly with Attorney Schwartz at every step of the way. We will leave no stone unturned. What’s more, we will fight relentlessly for reduced, dropped, or even dismissed charges.
What Is Money Laundering?
Under federal law, money laundering is the crime of disguising the source, amount, or destination of money obtained by illegal means. This is commonly accomplished by performing several bank transfers or transactions with legal organizations.
In simple terms, people launder money to make illicit funds appear legitimate. An example would be when a restaurant owner cooks the books to hide drug profits in the restaurant’s regular profits. The money is basically cleaned, or “laundered,” in this way.
Crimes Involved in Miami Money Laundering
Typically, money laundering occurs after funds are illegally gained through:
- Medicare/health insurance fraud
- Embezzlement or other white-collar crimes
- Bribery, blackmail, and extortion
- Theft and robbery
- Drug trafficking
The 3 Stages of Money Laundering
The source of the illicit funds can vary greatly, but money is always laundered in three stages.
Stage 1: Placement
In the first stage of money laundering, the funds are placed into the financial system.
First, the “dirty” funds are divided (or “scaled”) into smaller amounts, then these smaller amounts may be deposited into bank accounts, used to buy money orders, etc.
The point is to place the money into some legitimate business or account. Often, money launderers will place illicit funds in legitimate, cash-intensive businesses. Common examples include investment schemes, casinos, car washes, convenience stores, and restaurants.
Placement may also be done by moving the money far away and overseas, such as to a foreign bank account. This practice is known as “offshoring.”
Stage 2: Layering
At this stage, the dirty funds are blended with legitimate funds.
An example of the layering process would be going to a casino with dirty money, buying chips, gambling a bit, then cashing them out again.
Another example would be if an accountant layered illicit funds into legitimate business profits. If the business was a car wash, this would involve making it appear as though the car wash serviced more patrons than it actually did.
Stage 3: Integration
Once the illicit funds are layered with legitimate funds, the money is almost done being laundered. The last step is to reintroduce the laundered funds into the economy.
Integration may be done by investing in real estate, new businesses, stocks or purchasing cars, boats, or anything else a person can buy.
Money Laundering Is a Federal Crime
U.S. Money Laundering Laws
Under 18 U.S.C. § 1956, any person or business executive commits money laundering if they:
- Intentionally and knowingly promote carrying on illegal activity (e.g. avoiding paying taxes);
- Conceal the nature, ownership, location, source of the illegal funds; or
- Commit a variety of different acts, including conducting or attempting to conduct a financial transaction involving money they know was earned from unlawful activity.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 1957, any person or business executive commits money laundering when they knowingly engage in or attempt to engage in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property valued at greater than $10,000.
Anti-Money Laundering Laws
There are also anti-money laundering rules (AML rules)—such as the Bank Secrecy Act—that aim to uncover these crimes.
Our money laundering lawyer understands all these laws like the back of his hand. Put his skill and knowledge to your advantage.
Florida Money Laundering Penalties
Federal penalties are much more severe than state-level penalties. The consequences of a money laundering offense will include:
- Asset forfeiture
- Other civil penalties
A violation of § 1956 may lead to the following penalties:
- Imprisonment for up to 20 years;
- Confiscation of property;
- Up to $500,000 in fines or twice the value of the property involved in the offense, whichever is greater (financial institution and interstate or foreign transmission offenses);
- For sting violations, $250,000 in fines ($500,000 for an organization) or twice the amount involved—whichever is greater; and
- A possible additional civil penalty of up to $10,000 in fines or the value of the property involved.
A violation of § 1957 will result in the following penalties:
- Imprisonment for up to 10 years;
- Confiscation of certain property;
- Up to $250,000 in fines ($500,000 for an organization) or twice the amount involved in the transaction—whichever is greater; and
- Civil penalty of up to $10,000 or the value of the property involved, whichever is greater.
Can I Fight My Money Laundering Charges?
Yes, you can and should fight federal money laundering charges. This is the United States, after all; we’re all innocent until proven guilty.
At Frank Schwartz, P.A., we represent the wrongfully accused as well as those who are facing harsher penalties than called for. We strongly believe that everyone deserves a strong fighting chance. That’s why we will do everything we can to get your charges dropped or dismissed. If that isn’t possible, there are ways to get charges or penalties reduced, such as through a plea deal. That’s just one of many options.
Charged with Laundering Money? We Can Help
If you have been charged with money laundering, it is critical that you enlist the legal guidance of an experienced Miami money laundering defense lawyer. At Frank Schwartz, P.A., we are deeply familiar with the federal court system and can effectively strategize your defense from beginning to end.
To get started on your defense, contact a money laundering attorney online today!
Frank Schwartz is a Miami attorney who concentrates his legal practice in the area of criminal defense. Mr. Schwartz is proud to have established a highly successful and effective criminal defense trial practice in South Florida.