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Crime

Attorney Kenneth Ravenell’s sentencing canceled after lawyers ask judge to reconsider ordering a new trial

A judge canceled Friday’s sentencing hearing for prominent defense attorney and convicted money launderer Kenneth Ravenell after Ravenell’s lawyers renewed their request for a new trial.

U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady denied on May 13 Ravenell’s first request for a new trial, writing that the “interest of justice does not require the granting of a new trial.” A jury convicted Ravenell, 61, of one count of felony money laundering in December, but acquitted him of narcotics, conspiracy and racketeering charges. Ravenell’s lawyers were asking the judge to sentence him to probation, whereas prosecutors sought eight years in prison.

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Scheduled to be sentenced Friday, the hearing was abruptly canceled after Ravenell’s lawyers filed a motion Wednesday asking O’Grady to reconsider the request for a new trial, writing O’Grady gave his order denying a trial based on “several manifest errors.” A manifest error is something obvious and indisputable.

Specifically at issue are the jury instructions given at trial. Ravenell’s team of Washington lawyers are arguing his charges may 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. Prosecutors have not filed a response to Ravenell’s motion.

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If granted a new trial, the rescheduling of the sentencing hearing would become moot, as Ravenell would have to be convicted again for it to matter.

Several prominent defense attorneys criticized the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland for how prosecutors handled Ravenell’s case, accusing them of disrespecting the legal profession. Federal authorities originally charged Ravenell with racketeering, drug conspiracy and money laundering for allegedly helping a multi-state marijuana operation run by drug kingpin and nightclub operator, Richard Byrd.

Ravenell had hired prominent attorney Josh Treem and investigator Sean Gordon for his legal defense, but the two men became a part of the case and also were federally charged. The jury found both men innocent.

Because the jury acquitted Ravenell of six of the seven charges, Ravenell claims that it’s proof Byrd’s testimony wasn’t credible and that the evidence against his client is thin. And the two sides disagree about the facts surrounding Ravenell’s lone guilty count.

The government says Ravenell used his position to launder about $1.8 million in drug money received from Byrd, citing bank records and Byrd’s testimony.

The defense denies Ravenell knowingly helped launder any money at all, but if he did, only about $59,000 could reasonably be considered drug money, also citing Byrd’s testimony


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