We are defending a client here in Atlanta against federal money laundering charges. The indictment seems to be confusing and unclear, so we filed several motions asking that the prosecutors explain more about what our client supposedly did wrong. Recently, a federal judge here in Atlanta granted our request. The judge entered an Order directing the prosecutors to give us what we call a “bill of particulars.” Here is why that is so important.
Federal money laundering charges are amazingly complicated. The federal statutes on this cover far more than what most people think of as money laundering. One part of the federal money laundering laws makes it a crime to take money from just about any crime, and then use that money in a “financial transaction” over $10,000 with a “financial institution.” Here is where it gets tricky.
The indictment in our case never made it clear which “financial institution” was involved. The business that employed our client (a used car dealership) is a “financial institution” under the law, even though most people would never consider it to be such. In other words, when a used car dealer sells a car for more than $10,000, that is a “financial transaction” with a “financial institution.” Furthermore, the business, like most companies, took its daily receipts and deposited them into the bank, which of course is yet another “financial institution.”
The problem is that the prosecutors would never tell us which “financial transaction” we need to defend against. Was it the point when the business accepted money from a customer, or was it the point when an employee took the money to the bank for deposit? This could turn out to be very important down the road.