Pennsylvania Money Laundering Attorney
Handling Complex Money Laundering Cases
Federal and state banking regulations make it impossible to deposit and spend large sums of money without disclosing the source of the funds. In fact, the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act—also known as the Bank Secrecy Act—requires banks to report any deposits of more than $10,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. Therefore, if someone has significant proceeds from illegal activity, they cannot merely deposit the money into their accounts as usual. Instead, certain people may “clean” or “launder” the money.
Money laundering is a serious state and federal crime and it can be prosecuted on either level. Many people may believe that money laundering is not that serious of an offense—after all, the crime that resulted in the money had already been committed, and who is getting hurt by simply laundering the money? State and federal authorities, however, view money laundering as a mechanism to cover criminal tracks, so they strictly enforce laws against money laundering.
If you have been accused of or believe you may be under investigation for money laundering, your first call should be to a highly experienced white collar crime defense attorney. Attorney Brian Zeiger represents clients in state and federal criminal courts throughout Pennsylvania, so please contact our office to discuss how we may help you.
Money Laundering and Related Charges
Money laundering involves various acts intended to conceal an unlawful source—or even existence—of assets. Many strategies can be used to accomplish this, so each money laundering case will have unique circumstances. Common money laundering schemes include:
- Structured deposits of smaller amounts
- Shell companies, which normally deal mostly in cash
- Fraudulent financial record keeping
- Offshore accounts
- Investing in real estate projects
- Making large cash purchases
- Anonymous online payments
- Virtual currency (for example, Bitcoin) investments
- Peer-to-peer online transfers
- Online gambling
To make matters more complicated, authorities will almost certainly investigate the source of the laundered funds. Common sources can include:
- Drug trafficking
- Terrorist activities
- Extortion and blackmail
- Mail or wire fraud
When authorities believe they have identified criminal activities that sourced the laundered money, you can also expect charges for the underlying crimes that followed. In some cases, the person laundering the money was also involved in the underlying crime, but this is not always the case. It is all too common for a person to be charged with drug trafficking or embezzlement when they were only responsible for laundering the money.
A skilled defense attorney can analyze the specifics in your case, identify any possible way to challenge the evidence against you, and present legal defenses.
Both Pennsylvania and federal law allow prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to seize any assets or property that they believe were involved in or obtained by criminal activity—even if you have not been convicted of a crime.
As you can imagine, when authorities believe they’ve found a money laundering scheme, they commonly seize all of the funds they believe were illegal, as well as any property purchased with illegal funds. This process is called civil forfeiture, and can sweep up:
- Financial account balances
- Real property
You need an attorney on your side to ensure that your rightful property is not wrongfully taken by the authorities. Prosecutors must prove to a certain degree that any seized assets were related to criminal activity—and we know how to challenge such assertions.
Potential Penalties for Money Laundering
Money laundering charges come with serious potential penalties in addition to having your money and property seized. Federal charges can lead to 10 to 20 years behind bars, depending on the circumstances, including how much money was involved, the extent of the scheme, and your alleged role in it.
As mentioned, money laundering charges are often accompanied by other serious allegations, and defendants can also face the consequences of those charges. There is a lot on the line in money laundering cases, so you need a highly experienced defense attorney representing your rights and interests every step of the way.
Defending Against Money Laundering Allegations
To convict you of money laundering, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the money in question came from a specific criminal act. It also must prove that you knowingly accepted illegal proceeds. As such, defenses against money laundering charges commonly include:
- The defendant accepted money not knowing its origin.
- The financial transactions were legitimate and legal.
- The funds were not the proceeds of any criminal activity.
Your lawyer will have to determine the best possible defense strategy for you based on the circumstances of your case.
Both the federal and state criminal justice processes are complicated and intimidating. Knowing that you are represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer can make all the difference in how your case affects you and how you resolve it.
Let a Qualified Pennsylvania Money Laundering Defense Lawyer Assist You
Never take money laundering and other white-collar crimes lightly. You need a law firm on your side from the moment you believe you may be under investigation. If you have been charged with money laundering, the government has likely gathered significant evidence against you – and your attorney should be ready to challenge that evidence.
Please call a white collar attorney at the law office of Brian Zeiger at (215) 546-0340 or contact us online for help today.