Prominent Baltimore defense attorney Kenneth Ravenell is appealing his federal money laundering conviction, according to recently filed court papers.
U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady sentenced Ravenell to four years and nine months in prison, plus three years of supervised release, last week. During the hearing, Ravenell did not say much about his case because anything he did say could be used against him in the appellate process.
As of Wednesday morning, only Ravenell’s notice of his plans to appeal were filed. The notice of appeal is the first step in the appellate process.
At his sentencing, Ravenell’s lawyers asked for his sentence to be delayed until after the appellate process on the grounds that if his conviction is reversed, he would have wrongly served prison time. O’Grady denied the request, saying a reversal is unlikely because the case presented was “about as clear a case of money laundering that can be found.”
Federal authorities originally charged Ravenell with racketeering, drug conspiracy and money laundering for allegedly helping a multistate marijuana operation run by drug kingpin and nightclub owner Richard Byrd. Byrd was convicted in 2017, and he testified against Ravenell, as did other members of his organization.
Prosecutors said Ravenell, then working as a partner at the law firm Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, used the firm’s bank accounts to launder $1.8 million in drug money through a series of complex transactions involving other lawyers, go-betweens, shell companies and even a United Nations ambassador from Uganda.
In a separate filing, O’Grady ordered Ravenell to pay the government the $1.8 million he is accused of laundering. Any reversal of his conviction would invalidate the forfeiture order.
Ravenell twice asked O’Grady to order a new trial in his case.
His claims for a new trial were based around the jury instructions given at his December trial. Ravenell’s team of Washington lawyers argued his charges might have been subject to the statute of limitations and that, at any rate, being paid for legal defense with drug money is not a crime.
O’Grady declined both requests.
As a criminal defense attorney, Ravenell has handled numerous prominent cases, including that of a West Baltimore gunman who shot and killed 7-year-old Taylor Hayes. He also sued Baltimore County Police on behalf of the young son of Korryn Gaines, the Randallstown woman killed by officers during a standoff.