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Crime

Feds ask judge to sentence Ken Ravenell to 8 years in prison as Ravenell’s lawyers request probation

Federal prosecutors and a lawyer for Baltimore defense attorney Ken Ravenell have filed court papers asking a judge to issue wildly different punishments next week at Ravenell’s sentencing hearing.

Convicted of money laundering but acquitted of narcotics, conspiracy and racketeering charges, Ravenell’s lawyer is asking Judge Liam O’Grady to give his client two years of probation. Prosecutors are asking O’Grady to sentence Ravenell to eight years in prison, just two years less than the maximum sentence allowed by law.

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“He abused his position as a member of the Bar of Maryland to break the law, treating his firm’s escrow account like a dirty bank for a coast-to-coast drug distribution organization for years and taking drug money for doing so,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

Ravenell, 61, stood trial in December, and several prominent defense attorneys criticized the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland for how prosecutors handled the case, accusing them of disrespecting the legal profession.

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Peter White, Ravenell’s attorney, asked O’Grady in his memo to consider Ravenell’s “exemplary, law-abiding life” and previous sentences for similar crimes when handing down punishment. White attached dozens of letters and statements from other, prominent attorneys and Ravenell’s former clients in support.

“He has always been a person of high moral character and honesty,” wrote David B. Irwin, a local defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, about Ravenell.

Ravenell is due to be sentenced May 13. At the time of Ravenell’s alleged criminal activity he was working for Murphy, Falcon & Murphy and was accused of laundering money through the firm’s bank accounts. Ravenell today practices at his own firm, Ravenell Law.

Federal authorities originally charged Ravenell with racketeering, drug conspiracy and money laundering for allegedly helping a multi-state marijuana operation run by drug kingpin, Richard Byrd. Byrd was convicted in 2017 and sentenced to 26 years in prison. He testified against Ravenell, as did other members of his organization.

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.

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Because the jury acquitted Ravenell of six of the seven charges, White 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.

White 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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Ravenell also filed a motion requesting a new trial — prosecutors filed court papers arguing against — and a judge is expected to rule on the appeal in the coming days.

Growing up in extreme poverty in South Carolina, Ravenell graduated from University of Maryland School of Law in 1984 and has practiced law in the state ever since. 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.

Due to the nature of his crimes, Ravenell could have his law license revoked if no new trial is ordered and his conviction is upheld.

In January, he asked the Maryland Court of Appeals not to revoke his license and included several letters from other attorneys and former clients in support of his request.


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