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Todd & Weld obtains acquittal for client in money laundering case

Todd & Weld persuaded a federal judge to enter a judgment of acquittal due to a violation of its client’s constitutional right to a speedy trial and the lack of sufficient evidence to prove a money laundering and conspiracy charge against him.

In 2018, the firm’s client, a dual citizen of Lebanon and the United States, was arrested on his return to the U.S. on a charge of conspiring to commit money laundering related to his 2012 delivery of a taped-up box containing cash to an undercover federal agent in Watertown, Mass.

He was indicted in 2014, but the government did not notify him of the indictment or attempt to extradite him from Lebanon where he was living with family before returning to the U.S. in 2018.

Following a four-day trial in 2019 the judge declared a mistrial when the jury was unable to render a verdict. 

Lawyers at the firm, including Ingrid S. Martin, successfully argued that the prosecution failed to prove that the client knowingly participated in a money laundering scheme, including a lack of evidence that he knew the sealed box contained cash and that the cash was related to an unlawful activity (drug trafficking).

The judge in his 74-page opinion wrote that the defendant may have known the transaction was suspicious, but an equally plausible inference is that he was an unknowing courier.

The 56-month delay from indictment to arrest created a presumptive violation of the constitutional right to a speedy trial, the judge found.  He rejected the government’s argument that its failure to attempt extradition from Lebanon was excusable based on a belief that any attempt would have been futile. 

The government also failed to notify the defendant of the charge against him even though he visited the U.S. embassy in Beirut at least twice, and in 2013 had registered with the embassy as a U.S. citizen living in Lebanon.