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Money Laundering Defense After Santos and Regaldo Cuellar
By Barry Boss; John May; Matt Swerdlin
Money, it’s a crime.
— Pink Floyd1
For some time, prosecutors and money laundering charges have had a
romantic relationship. For many years, the breadth of the statute was
matched only by its draconian sentencing guideline ranges. In 2001, the
Sentencing Commission amended U.S.S.G. § 2S1.1 to tie offense
levels for money laundering more closely to the underlying conduct that
was the source of the criminally derived funds.2 Many
expected that this amendment would eviscerate the plea bargaining
leverage that prosecutors obtained when they included such charges in an
indictment, and as a result, there would be a precipitous decrease in
the number of money laundering cases brought. But, for reasons that are
unclear, prosecutors continued to charge money laundering even in
“mine-run” cases.3 Fortunately, recent developments,
including most significantly the Supreme Court money laundering
decisions during its 2007-08 term, may signal a sea change in how courts
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