Federal prosecutors have dropped their prosecution of Hartford, Conn., criminal defense lawyer M. Donald Cardwell on money-laundering charges, but took two months to do so after a stinging rebuke from the bench and never conceded that criminal witnesses with powerful motives to lie may have misled them.

A motion filed by the federal authorities on March 17 to dismiss charges notes that Cardwell, “an experienced defense lawyer who was represented by competent and experienced counsel,” pled guilty 19 months before to two counts one of failing to file the IRS form for receipt of cash over $10,000 and another for “willful blindness” about the use of drug profits in the purchase of a home.