Friday, February 8, 2008

Respected Miami Attorney Charged with Money Laundering

A highly-regarded Miami attorney, Ben Kuehne, was charged with money laundering for his role in approving payments to well-known defense lawyer Roy Black that allegedly were funds from a drug smuggling operation of the Medellín cocaine cartel.  According to a story in the Miami Herald (here), Kuehne was retained by Black in connection with his representation of the head of the Medellín cartel to ensure that the funds were not tainted.  According to the article, "Kuehne's research gave Black the confidence -- in the form of legal opinion letters -- to accept payments totaling $3.7 million in fees and $1.3 million in expenses from Ochoa, according to several sources. Kuehne earned a portion of the expense payments -- $220,000 to $260,000 -- from Black for vetting Ochoa's payments."  Kuehne is a past president of the Dade County Bar Association and one of the fifty-two members of the Florida Bar Board of Governors, elected from the Eleventh Circuit.  The Board of Governors "has exclusive authority to formulate and adopt matters of policy concerning the activities of the Bar," according to the Bar website (here).

Kuehne and his two co-defendants maintain their innocence, and it is not immediately apparent what the government's theory is in the case.  The amount he received for his work may well be on the high side, at least if he were charging an hourly rate for his work on Black's behalf, which could have triggered the government's interest.  If he received a percentage of Black's fee, then that could call into question the objectivity of his legal opinion.  But when an attorney is asked to opine on the legality of funds to pay for the defense of a drug lord, it seems counterintuitive to say the least that he would give his imprimatur knowing that the funds were in fact the proceeds of narcotics transactions that the government was likely to scrutinize carefully.  Given Kuehne's pristine reputation, it is hard to believe he would risk his entire legal career for an amount that, while significant, is hardly worth the loss of prestige and income he would suffer from a money laundering conviction.  Would you sell your law license and career for a quarter of a million dollars?  The documents in the case are not yet available, so I can't say at this point what approach the government plans to take or the evidence it is like to put on.  It is certainly a head-scratcher at this point. (ph)

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Comments

I would like to see the record of the return of this indictment according to Rule 6(f), Fed.R.Cr.P. and corresponding law, as listed the U.S.Code.

How can the Court today have us believe and maintain credibility in the legitimacy of a "Grand Jury" system, preserved in standing in accordance with "Due Process of Law" as it was in the course of the common law of England in 1776, in accordance with the "Due Proces Clause" of the Fifth Article of Ammendment of the Constitution of the United States of America?

I, don´t believe "The Foreperson or Foreman of the Grand Jury" can adequately represent to the "Article III Court", sitting in session in any given US District Court, under the US Magistrate System, the will of the "Grand Jury" when he, the Foreperson, is but one person purporting to present to the court in written form the secretly determined and unnanymously found decision of the Grand Jury, which we know to be an institution protected from the whims and caprices of a single person or even of a couple and a group, with its inherent definitio that a Grand Jury is composed of six (6) or more jurors. Therefore, when the Rule of Procedure reduces the Institution of the Grand Jury to a mere representation of oner person, the so called Grand Jury Foreperson, who is also entrusted in being the one in charge in counting the number of Yes and Nay votes by the other jurors aftere their deliberation over the charges and the proof.

Placing one person, who is elected as Foreperson by the Grand Jury to manage the deliberations and count the votes and "return" the indictment to the court, jeopordizes the credebility and integrity of the entire judicial system. How can the court guarantee that the document "returned" by the Grand Jury Foreperson is a real "Indictment by a Grand Jury"?

Posted by: Henry Caraballo | Sep 28, 2009 4:15:08 PM

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