Baltimore attorney Stanley Needleman, 69, has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison by a U.S. District Court judge.
Needleman pleaded guilty in September, four 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. Agents found a ledger detailing the cash payments from his legal clients, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said at sentencing that Needleman had funneled cash into family members accounts and on ttwo occasions cashed checks for over $10,000 for convicted drug traffickers at a local liquor store but did not deposit the monies received. He also used $30,000 in cash of his own money to post bail for a client in violation Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct, prosecutors said.
Needleman faced a maximum of 15 years in prison, and provided several character witnesses who spoke on his behalf.
“Today’s sentencing closes the door on the career of a prominent Baltimore attorney,” Ava Cooper-Davis, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, 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."
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein 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.”
Needleman, who specialized in drug cases, voluntarily agreed to disbarment prior to 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,” a term for depositing money into an account in chunks below $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements.
The Sun first reported that Needleman was under investigation.