A Boston federal judge said he was "appalled by the brazenness and flagrant stupidity" of criminal defense attorney Robert George before sentencing him to 3 1/2 years in prison for money laundering and related charges.
During a 90-minute sentencing hearing on October 31, Judge Nathaniel Gorton of the District of Massachusetts sentenced George to 42 months in prison for each of seven counts, to be served concurrently. Gorton imposed one year of supervised release for each count, also to be served concurrently. In addition, he imposed a $12,500 fine and a $700 special assessment, and ordered George to forfeit $39,500 and the Lexus he used to conduct a meeting related to the charges.
In March 2011, the government charged George and a co-conspirator with concealing more than $225,000 in drug proceeds and indicted him in April 2011. The co-conspirator was later disclosed to be mortgage broker Michael Hansen.
According to the government, George’s former client, Ronald Dardinski, sought George’s help with the money laundering scheme. George’s defense was based on his claim that the government directed Dardinski, a government informant, to relentlessly call George.
In June, George was found guilty of five money laundering charges, a money laundering conspiracy charge and a structuring charge, which involves parceling out large transactions into smaller ones.
According to a March 2011 order denying George’s motion to dismiss, George ultimately got $20,000 for laundering $200,000 and Hansen kept $40,000 from the transactions.
George’s lawyer, Robert Goldstein of Boston-based Goldstein Law Firm, asked for a sentence of 18 months. He emphasized George’s dedication to his family and his exemplary life, including such actions as having a shoeshine stand built for a street worker. "The guidelines do not account for all the good Bob George has done in his life," Goldstein said.
The government sought a 63-month sentence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Kaplan said George "has not accepted any responsibility for his actions and what he did. He continues to lay blame on the government and on the paid informant."
When Gorton gave George a chance to speak on his own behalf before imposing the sentence, George spoke for 15 minutes. "I could never plead guilty to these charges because I was not guilty," George said. He said he opted for a jury trial "hoping they would see things differently but they did not."
He added, "When I was running from case to case, court to court, family event to family event…I could not see that these people were after me. I only sought to do what I could for people who asked for help."
Just before handing down the sentence, Gorton said he considered George’s life before he so "inexplicably fell off the straight and narrow" to be a mitigating circumstance. Gorton said he also considered the 62 letters submitted to the court to vouch for George’s character.
Gorton then scolded George: "What were you thinking? The answer is you weren’t thinking.’ He added that when attorneys commit crimes, "they must be punished not only for their criminal acts and deeds but also to send the clearest message to the entire profession."
In a press conference following the sentencing hearing, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts said that despite its recommendation for a 63-month sentence, the office is "satisfied with the results in the court today regarding Mr. George.…Lawyers are held to a high standard and in high regard, [so] the sentence needed to punish the criminal conduct that occurred but also send a message of deterrence."
Goldstein declined to comment after the hearing.
Sheri Qualters can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.