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Bar Counsel seeks discipline against Ravenell after money laundering conviction

The Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission is seeking disciplinary action against Kenneth W. Ravenell, whose high-profile criminal trial ended last month with a conviction on a federal money laundering charge.

In a petition filed Tuesday, Bar Counsel Lydia E. Lawless asked Maryland’s top court to temporarily suspend Ravenell’s law license, which would be the first step toward more serious consequences for Ravenell.

Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty issued a show cause order Wednesday, giving Ravenell 15 days to argue why he should not be suspended immediately.

Maryland Bar Counsel can petition for disciplinary action when a lawyer is convicted of a “serious crime” and request a temporary suspension of the lawyer’s law license until sentencing takes place. Ravenell’s sentencing is set for May.

The Court of Appeals will decide on the request for a temporary suspension and any future discipline against Ravenell. The Baltimore Sun first reported the Bar Counsel petition.

Ravenell’s attorney in the criminal case, Lucius Outlaw, declined to comment Wednesday.

The petition and the federal conviction mark a major fall for Ravenell, a celebrated defense lawyer who was indicted in 2019 on charges that he advised a marijuana trafficking operation run by a former client, Richard Byrd.

The money laundering charge related to allegations that Ravenell helped “wash” drug money through his law firm at the time, Murphy, Falcon & Murphy. The government accused Ravenell of using law firm bank accounts to launder more than a million dollars in drug proceeds for Byrd and his associates, making the money appear legitimate so that it could be used to make investments and other payments.

Jurors acquitted defense lawyer Joshua R. Treem and private defense investigator Sean F. Gordon, both of whom were accused of obstruction of justice during their efforts to defend Ravenell during the federal investigation.

Senior U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady, who presided at Ravenell’s trial, on Monday granted a motion from Ravenell’s lawyers to extend the time they have to file post-trial motions until April.

Byrd, who is serving a 26-year federal prison term for his role in the marijuana trafficking organization, testified that he expects to receive a sentence reduction for his cooperation with prosecutors against Ravenell. A flurry of sealed filings in Byrd’s federal case suggest that process is moving forward.