Attorney guilty in money laundering case

A federal jury took just four hours this afternoon to find prominent defense attorney Robert A. George guilty of money laundering charges.

“Prosecuting money laundering is a priority of the Department of Justice,” US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a statement. “We will pursue these cases wherever they lead us, even if it leads to attorneys, who are not above the law.”

George, 56, of Westwood was convicted of conspiring to launder money and money laundering from early 2009 to 2011.

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The verdict came after federal prosecutors and the defense painted widely varying pictures of the case against George in closing arguments in US District Court this morning.

George’s lawyer argued that George was “set up” and called the government’s investigation of George “repulsive” and a “travesty.”

“Is this a man who was involved in money laundering? Or is this a man who was set up and we all know it?” attorney Kevin Reddington asked the jury.

But a federal prosecutor said George had arranged a money laundering transaction himself – and that secretly made recordings that were introduced as evidence in the trial proved the government’s case.

“These are the words from the defendant’s mouth,” said Assistant US Attorney Laura Kaplan, holding up a CD of the recordings.

“This is evidence that is not susceptible to lying, to bias, to motivation,” Kaplan said. “The tape can’t lie.”

“This is a case about a 30-year member of the bar, an attorney, an attorney who strayed far afield from the law,” she said.

George, 57, a long-time criminal defense lawyer, faces up to 20 years in prison for participating in the money laundering scheme by helping a former Mafia enforcer legitimize profits from his past crimes.

Ronnie Dardinski acknowledged under cross-examination Thursday that he had called George repeatedly to try to talk about the scheme — 59 times during a three-week period in 2009.

The defense sought to use the testimony to show that Dardinski had framed George in the scheme.

Reddington called Dardinski a “prince of lies” in his closing argument, saying that he “lies faster than a horse can trot” and “wouldn’t know the truth if it fell on him.”

But Kaplan said, “This is a case about someone who was corrupted by no one else but his own greed.”

Assistant US Attorney Zac Hafer added, “This isn’t about the government taking Bob George down. It’s about Bob George taking Bob George down.”