January 4, 2010
"Relatively Minor Function" Draws Reprimand
A single justice of the Maine Supreme Court ordered a public reprimand of an attorney who "was asked by a former client to perform a relatively minor function as a closing agent for a real estate transaction." Unfortunately for the attorney, the transaction was money laundering as the former client was concealing his purchase of the property by use of a straw man. The former client was known by the lawyer as a "reputed drug dealer." Straw man brought over $50,000 in cash to the closing and did not wait for a receipt. Straw man had just received the cash in a paper bag in the attorney's office parking lot. Former client and straw man pled guilty to money laundering in federal court.
The court here concluded that the lawyer "did not give [the transaction] the attention it was due." He had let his staff do most of the pre-closing work and had not anticipated a large cash payment. The attorney also had failed to file the required federal form for his receipt of over $10,000. (Mike Frisch)
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