Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Sentencing in Ravenell money laundering case postponed

Kenneth W. Ravenell has asked Maryland’s Court of Appeals to let him continue practicing law while he challenges his conviction. (The Daily Record/File Photo)

The sentencing hearing for Baltimore lawyer Kenneth W. Ravenell has been postponed until May 27.

Ravenell, 62, will face a possible prison sentence at his sentencing, which was originally set for May 13. A federal jury convicted him in December of a single count of money laundering related to allegations that he helped “wash” money for a major marijuana trafficking organization run by a client.

Senior U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady rescheduled the sentencing without explanation Friday.

The defense and prosecution filed sentencing memoranda this week asking for very different outcomes to the case.

Government prosecutors asked for eight years in prison for Ravenell, who they say helped launder $1.8 million for his client, Richard Byrd, who was running a cross-country drug trafficking ring.

Byrd testified at Ravenell’s trial that the lawyer served as an adviser to the trafficking organization by providing intel on how to evade law enforcement and laundering drug proceeds through his law firm at the time, Murphy, Falcon & Murphy.

Jurors found Ravenell not guilty of most charges, including racketeering and narcotics conspiracy, at his trial in December. The defense argued this week that the split verdict indicates the jury did not believe Byrd, who testified that he expected to receive a reduction in his 26-year prison sentence in exchange for cooperating against Ravenell.

Ravenell’s lawyers claimed in their sentencing memorandum that the inconsistency means Ravenell was only convicted in a smaller money laundering scheme involving just $55,000 in drug money he accepted from an associate of Byrd in exchange for criminal defense work.

The defense team asked O’Grady to sentence Ravenell to two years of probation and no prison time.

Still pending is a motion for a new trial that Ravenell’s defense team filed last month. Ravenell’s lawyers asked O’Grady to throw out the verdict on the basis that jurors should have received a “safe harbor” instruction that would have explained payment for criminal defense work is not considered a “monetary transaction” under the money laundering statute.

Ravenell’s trial raised questions about prosecutorial overreach. Prosecutors also charged Joshua R. Treem, a celebrated defense lawyer who initially represented Ravenell, and private defense investigator Sean F. Gordon,

The indictment alleged that Treem and Gordon met with Byrd with the goal of taking him “off the board,” or getting him to sign a false statement so that he would be useless if called as a witness against Ravenell. But jurors acquitted Treem and Gordon of all charges, validating critics who said the government went too far toward criminalizing legal defense work.

The claims against Ravenell were much more far-reaching, extending back years and involving millions of dollars in drug money. He was the only defendant to be convicted at trial.