Let’s pretend for a moment that you run an illegal high-volume drug trafficking business in Maryland. You frequently transport large amounts of opioids and marijuana from a remote part of the U.S. into Maryland. While you might literally be “rolling in the dough” from the sales, you have to find a way to “cleanse” the proceeds. So, you think up a great scheme. Your brother’s girlfriend works at a local bank and has always had a thing for you. Acting without thinking of the consequences, you comprise a scheme with her to convert the large dollar bills into a treasure trove of 10’s, 20’s and 50’s. Much more manageable, right? Wrong. Your brother decides to turn into a confidential informant and rats you both out. What just happened? A serious case of money laundering, that’s what happened.
To be clear, money laundering means any sort of financial transaction or attempt to conduct a transaction to conceal the source of funds that came from an illegal activity. It is important to note that most money laundering cases are prosecuted on a federal level because the actions cross state lines. For example, in 2011 a Maryland attorney pleaded guilty to money laundering charges after advising clients on drug trafficking activities and helping to launder the proceeds. The lawyer was based in Maryland, but his activities spanned several states.
Below you will find information on federal money laundering statutes, as well as related Maryland state crimes that a prosecutor may use to charge a person such fraud and other financial crimes.
Maryland Money Laundering Laws Overview
Although there are no statutes in Maryland that directly address money laundering, the following chart outlines other state and some federal laws that may be used in prosecuting this crime. Keep in mind, there may be several defenses available to you for these charges.
Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, 18 U.S. Code Section 1956
Maryland Corporations and Associations Section 1-405 (Organized Crime)
Maryland Fraud Laws, Maryland Criminal Code Title 8 et. seq
Federal money laundering penalties include a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a fine up to $500,000, and/or twice the value of the funds involved. If money is laundered in connection with terrorist activity, the maximum sentence can be as much as 35 years.
The law also allows the government to garnish all proceeds of any bank, savings and loan institution, credit union, investment fund, or retirement fund that participates in unlawful money laundering activities.
Under the state organized crime law, the Attorney General may institute civil proceedings against a business entity to forfeit their charter if they are involved in a criminal enterprise involving money laundering.
Under state fraud laws, a defendant can be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the nature of the offense and will include a prison or jail sentence and a fine
Possible Related State Crimes (List Not Exhaustive)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Maryland Codes and Court of Appeals Opinions
If you have additional questions about Maryland’s money laundering laws, click on the following links below to learn more:
Charged With Money Laundering? You'll Want Legal Representation
Money laundering could land you in prison for a very long time. If you have been accused of this crime, your smartest move is to find an experienced attorney who specializes in white collar crime who can represent you in court. A skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney can explain the charges against you and any possible defenses that may be available.
Contact a qualified attorney.