Prominent Baltimore defense lawyer indicted for allegedly aiding crimes of marijuana kingpin
By Debra Cassens Weiss
September 20, 2019, 10:50 am CDT
Prominent Baltimore defense lawyer Ken Ravenell has been indicted on federal charges based on allegations he helped a Jamaican marijuana kingpin and his crew members launder drug proceeds and avoid detection.
The indictment returned Wednesday charges Ravenell, 60, with racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and narcotics conspiracy, according to the Baltimore Sun and a press release.
The indictment alleges Ravenell instructed crew members to “utilize certain drug couriers, to utilize specific modes of transportation and to transport shipments of drugs and money at particular times of day, all for the purpose of evading law enforcement.”
The indictment also claims Ravenell told crew members they should use payphones and prepaid phones, and should remove batteries from their phones when meeting to discuss illegal activities.
Prosecutors say Ravenell used the law firm where he was a partner in furtherance of the conspiracy, which took place between 2009 and 2014.
Some of the drug crew’s meetings were held at the law firm, and Ravenell used law firm bank accounts to launder drug money and pay lawyers representing other members of the conspiracy, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors also say Ravenell found lawyers who refused to represent cooperating witnesses to represent crew members, and required the crew members to sign retainer agreements that allowed their lawyers to withdraw from the case if the client tried to cooperate.
Ravenell obtained information about the status of the cases and whether the defendants were cooperating, and then relayed that information to other conspirators, prosecutors say. Ravenell also met with defendants in jail without permission of their lawyers and encouraged them to accept plea deals that did not include cooperation, according to the indictment.
The Baltimore Sun identified Ravenell’s former firm as the Murphy Law Firm. Since leaving the firm, Ravenell has emerged as a top defense lawyer who has handled high-profile murder cases, according to the Sun.