Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lawyer Sentenced to Two Years for Money Laundering of Client Funds

R. Scott Cunningham received a two-year prison term for his conviction on two counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy arising from transactions he undertook on behalf of his client prior to filing for bankruptcy.  The jury acquitted Cunningham on 39 other money laundering counts.  The client, Abraham Kennard, was convicted in 2005 on 116 counts of fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and tax evasion related to a scheme to defraud over 1,600 churches and non-profit organizations, most of which were poor; Kennard received over 17 years in prison.  A press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia (here) describes Cunningham's role:

Cunningham represented Kennard in bankruptcy proceedings shortly before the criminal activity began. After Kennard began the church fund scheme, CUNNINGHAM agreed to deposit the proceeds of the fraud scheme into his attorney escrow account and disburse the proceeds when and as directed by Kennard.  From January 2002 through October 2002, CUNNINGHAM laundered more than $8.7 million in fraud proceeds through his attorney escrow account and assisted Kennard in concealing and disguising the source, location, ownership, nature, and control of the fraud proceeds. The evidence showed that Cunningham assisted Kennard in siphoning off approximately $3 million of the fraud proceeds for his own use. Kennard paid Cunningham more than $440,000 for his assistance in laundering the fraud proceeds.

The district court ordered Cunningham to forfeit assets acquired through the money laundering, including "his residence in Dalton,Georgia; approximately $422,000 in cash; a 2002 GMC pickup truck; a 2002 Cadillac Escalade; and a 1995 Harley Davidson motorcycle." (ph)

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