Needleman, whose law career spanned more than three decades, pleaded guilty in September to tax evasion and currency structuring charges, months after agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration raided his downtown law office and Pikesville home and found $1.15 million in unreported income inside two safes.
At his sentencing in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, federal prosecutors said Needleman, 69, had funneled cash into the accounts of family members and on two occasions cashed checks for more than $10,000 from convicted drug traffickers at a local liquor store but did not deposit the funds. He also used $30,000 in cash of his own to post bail for a client in violation of Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct, prosecutors said.
Needleman, who faced a maximum of 15 years in prison, provided several character witnesses who spoke on his behalf, prosecutors said. His attorney, Kenneth Ravenell, could not be reached for comment.
"Today's sentencing closes the door on the career of a prominent Baltimore attorney," Ava Cooper-Davis, DEA special agent in charge, said in a statement. "Greed seemed to have gotten the best of Mr. Needleman. The DEA and IRS investigation of criminal defense attorney Stanley Needleman was a long-term, highly complex effort. Nobody is above the law."
Rod J. Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for Maryland, added: "The defendant sought to avoid detection by hoarding the money in his basement instead of spending it on a lavish lifestyle, but a thorough investigation proved him wrong."
U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus handed down the sentence.
Needleman, who specialized in drug cases, voluntarily agreed to disbarment before his sentencing, officials said. His plea calls for him to pay more than $660,000 in unpaid taxes and to forfeit more than $490,000 in cash that prosecutors say he "structured" to avoid detection. His prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised probation.
The Baltimore Sun first reported that Needleman was under investigation in April.