illinois money laundering charges

Understanding Money Laundering Charges in Illinois

At the most basic level, money laundering is taking money that was generated through criminal activity, and making it appear to have been obtained legitimately (clean). In other words, money laundering conceals illegally obtained funds. This could be done through fraudulent record keeping, or shell companies, such as a donut shop that requires all companies to pay with cash, or a check cashing service.

Because the definition of “financial transaction” is very broad, a money laundering charge does not need to involve an actual financial transaction or even a business.

Money Laundering in Hollywood

If you’ve ever watched Hell or High Water, Casino, the Town, the Wolf of Wall Street or American Made, you’ve seen Hollywood present stories of money laundering. There are many, many more films and TV shows that explore this theme, IMDB has nearly 300 titles. But money laundering isn’t always so glamorous. Experts in money laundering will tell you that in real life, those cases are the exception and not the rule.

Money Laundering and Other Allegations

Money laundering charges are often connected to other criminal charges as it is usually just a component of a criminal enterprise. In February 2020, Melissa Scanlan, known as “the drug llama” was sentenced to 160 months in federal prison for selling more than 50,000 fentanyl pills that she acquired from a Mexican cartel boss. Scanlan shipped the pills in leather pouches that were sold in a previous online business.

In the Scanlan case, along with the conviction for one count of conspiracy to commit international money laundering, she was also convicted of five counts of distributing fentanyl, one count of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, one count of selling counterfeit drugs, one count of misbranding drugs, and one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death.

Simply passing money from one person to another with an intent to disguise the source, ownership, location or control of the money, may be deemed money laundering. These cases carry severe punishments and complex financial details.  In Illinois, money laundering is always a felony charge, and is a federal crime as a result of the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986.

Typically, the greater amount of money involved in a charge, the more severe the fines and punishment. Penalties may be prison sentences between two and 15 years and fines up to $25,000. The government could also seize property such as a house or car, if it was purchased with money made from money laundering. In a criminal case, this seizure is known as forfeiture and is only permitted if the defendant is convicted beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are four basic defenses to a money laundering charge that your attorney may present:

  • Lack of evidence
  • Duress / Harm threatened against you
  • Mental Incapacity
  • Lack of intent / honest mistake.

Speak to a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you have been charged with money laundering or any other crime, time is of the essence to protect your future.  A skilled and experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyer who understands applicable laws can represent your freedom and rights and help keep you out of jail. Contact us for a free consultation.

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