Additional charges appear to be coming to the complicated federal prosecution of prominent Baltimore attorney Kenneth Ravenell.
A sealed government motion filed late last month seeks to postpone Ravenell’s trial, scheduled for April 13, "until after ... additional charges are returned.”
Prosecutors wrote in a Feb. 25 motion to seal information from the public that disclosure of the contents of their motion “may thwart an ongoing criminal investigation by leading individuals to engage in additional obstructive conduct, destroy evidence, and flee from prosecution.”
Ravenell is charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, money laundering and drug distribution for allegedly covering up and aiding the crimes of a high-profile client, Jamaican marijuana kingpin Richard Byrd.
Lucius Outlaw, one of Ravenell’s attorneys, said prosecutors have informed him of the nature of additional charges but not when they might be unsealed.
The ongoing investigation has prompted two separate appeals to the federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The DEA and IRS raided Ravenell’s office in 2019, and also the office of his previous attorney, Joshua Treem.
Treem’s firm, Brown, Goldstein & Levy, filed the first appeal, which led to the appointment of a special master to review documents seized and to filter those which they determine the government is not entitled to view.
Attorneys for Ravenell filed a second appeal over that process last month, arguing that the government was likely to learn Ravenell’s defense strategy from documents seized.
Disclosure would allow “access to his defense strategy and critical defense documents before trial—a harm that cannot be undone and that cannot be remedied in any future appeal," wrote attorneys for Ravenell, who is referred to as “Client A” in the filings.
“The Fifth and Sixth Amendments cannot condone this unjustified invasion of the defense camp," they said.
Ravenell’s attorneys said that Treem, referred to as “Lawyer A,” represented Ravenell for approximately three years. “Lawyer A generated important work product and exchanged privileged communications with his client during the investigation,” the attorneys wrote.
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The appellate court denied the appeal on Feb. 19. Prosecutors contended that Ravenell can appeal the issues should he be convicted. “There can be no doubt that the privilege review process in place in the District Court has fully protected, and continues to protect, Client A’s rights against the disclosure of privileged materials, without need for an immediate appeal.”
Treem has not been charged with a crime, though prosecutors previously said he was under investigation for “obstructive conduct.”
Prosecutors allege Byrd and his crew paid Ravenell for advice on how they could avoid detection, such as how to switch up phones and use fake identities to conceal assets, and orchestrated a scheme to influence co-conspirators from testifying. The indictment identifies someone by the initials “S.G.” who participated.
“Ravenell obtained access to incarcerated co-conspirators whom he did not represent, so that Ravenell, S.G., and others could attempt to improperly influence their testimony, attempt to cause them to execute false affidavits and witness statements which Ravenell and S.G. knew to be false, and attempt to cause witnesses to withhold testimony,” according to the indictment.
Byrd, the drug kingpin, was sentenced in early 2017 to 26 years and is seeking to get his own conviction overturned. Byrd argues, among other things, that his lawyer at the time of his guilty plea shared strategies and information with Ravenell’s attorneys, linking their fates rather than pursuing a strategy beneficial for Byrd.
Prosecutors in the Ravenell case oppose Byrd’s request, saying he “cannot show any adverse effect the conflict had on [the attorney’s] performance and, therefore, is not entitled to relief on this issue.”
Ravenell is charged with conspiracy to launder more than $10,000 and to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. He faces life in prison on the drug charges alone.