Lawyering: TV Techniques Don’t Work in Real Life

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio has affirmed a decision from the trial court that convicted Matthew King, the Breaking Bad replicator, of two counts of money laundering and one count of attempted money laundering. King sought appellate review of the trial court decision based on two arguments: that the Confrontation Clause was violated and that the trial court improperly admitted evidence of his prior conviction.

According to the trial record, King had approached a gentleman, Marcus Terry, at a strip club. Terry had held himself out to be a drug dealer with substantial funds needing laundering. Terry explained that he had drugs shipped in from Mexico, and had others sell the product at the street level. King then proposed two methods to “clean” the money for Terry. First, he would create a sham entertainment corporation, an idea he stole from a Breaking Bad episode. Second, he would funnel money through his legal IOLTA account for Terry. Ultimately, they decided on the IOLTA approach. Putting words into action, Terry brought $20,000 to King, who deposited it into his IOLTA account. King then promised to return it a few thousand dollars at a time. King then made two $2,000 payments to Terry in February and March 2014. Based on that, King was charged with two counts of money laundering and one count of attempted money laundering. He was convicted on all three counts.

In addressing the Confrontation Clause argument, King argued that the trial court improperly admitted recorded conversations between himself and Terry, in that it violated his right to confront the witnesses against him. The Court first looked at whether the statements were offered for the truth of the matter asserted. The Court held that they were not offered for their truth, but rather as a representation of what had been presented and ultimately believed by King. Although it eventually helped establish an element of the offense, it didn’t equate to being offered for the truth of the matter.

In addressing the prior conviction, King argued that the trial court improperly allowed the prosecutor to question him about his prior arrest for cocaine possession. Although, the Court agreed that the information was improperly admitted, the Court held that it was a harmless error. The Court reasoned that the arrest evidence was consistent with King’s own testimony about his history of substance abuse, and that King was not convicted based on his prior cocaine arrest. The Court felt there was sufficient basis in the record to support the conviction, despite this harmless error.

Original Article: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/6th_circuit_upholds_money_laundering_conviction_of_lawyer_who_suggested_bre

 

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