The Unclean Crime of Money Laundering
Money laundering is a commonly misunderstood crime. The term itself is typically misconstrued with other financial crimes. In all reality the process of money laundering involves taking illegally gained money, or rather “dirty money,” and making it appear legal. In the end the proceeds will appear to be “clean,” thus why the crime is called laundering. Again there are many different financial crimes associated with money laundering, but that is the basic definition.
Money Laundering Defined
The definition of money laundering can be found in New Jersey Code 2C:21-25. Very recently three Bergen County residents were charged with that very crime. North Jersey recently reported on residents Denti, Francavilla, and Perricelli, who face multiple charges of conspiracy, theft by deception, and money laundering. The article reported that the individuals conned money out of investors by telling them they were investing in surgical facilities. Some of the investments were so large that they exceeded $100,000 and $250,000. Ironically, the original investigation was based on separate claims against the individuals, involving the defrauding of investors out of $3 million. Denti was being held in Bergen County jail on a bond of $100,000.
Money laundering does not involve just state law. In fact, money laundering is covered in many federal laws as well. The New Jersey Herald recently reported on a case out of Trenton, NJ, where federal prosecutors are alleging fraud out of a payroll processing company defrauded an estimated $5.6 million out of 50 clients. John Scholz is the owner of that company. He drew federal attention based on charges of defrauding money from the city of Trenton. Scholz retained access to a bank account in which his clients were depositing funds for tax purposes. Scholz allegedly took money from that account to pay for personal expenses, which may even include payments on a $1.8 million house in Florida.
Financial Scams Abound
Money laundering is typically viewed as some slick salesperson selling a pitch to an unsuspecting victim. However, as the New Jersey Law Journal points out, even educated individuals can be the victims of money laundering schemes. The journal highlighted a program which showed multiple attorneys being asked about ways to bring untraced funds into the United States (i.e. via anonymous accounts and financial vehicles). Only a couple of the attorneys refused to provide advice while the others either deferred to another attorney, or at least provided some level of assistance for bringing unidentified funds into the United States.
Ultimately, money laundering can land you in very hot water. Financial crimes can carry some very serious penalties, and money laundering is no exception. Despite the non-violent nature of the crime, money laundering carries some harsh penalties. Money laundering in the first degree could result in a sentence of up to 10-20 years in prison. The potential for a sentence in which a half of the allowable time is equal to a decade makes it imperative that you retain competent counsel. Attorney Phillip J. Murphy is licensed to practice in New Jersey and has been practicing law since 1989. Contact us today to discuss your options.