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Crime

Baltimore attorney Ken Ravenell seeks new trial, says jurors weren’t given proper instructions

Baltimore defense attorney Ken Ravenell is seeking a new trial after being convicted by a federal jury in December of laundering money for a drug organization.

In a motion filed Friday, Ravenell claims his conviction should be overturned because jurors were not given correct instructions.

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“The instructions upon which the jury issued its verdict ... contained prejudicial errors that mandate Mr. Ravenell’s sole count of conviction be vacated,” the motion said.

Ravenell’s lawyers said one of the things not clearly explained to jurors was a “safe harbor” exception, which protects lawyers who are paid for criminal defense work with illegal money. In the motion, his lawyers said his conduct “falls squarely” under the safe harbor protections.

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His attorneys also claim that jurors were not given the proper statute of limitations, saying the money laundering conspiracies continued beyond the applicable time period, which ended July 2, 2014.

“Failure to instruct the jury that it needed to make a factual finding on this point constitutes reversible error,” the motion said.

Ravenell was charged by federal authorities with racketeering, drug conspiracy and money laundering for allegedly helping direct the operation of marijuana boss and nightclub impresario Richard Byrd. Byrd, who was sentenced to 26 years in prison, testified against Ravenell, as did other members of his organization.

A jury acquitted Ravenell of the racketeering and conspiracy charges but convicted him of money laundering. He is set to be sentenced in May.

His law license could be revoked, but in January he asked the state’s highest court not to do so, and dozens of prominent local defense attorneys and clients expressed support for him.


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