Monday, December 19, 2005

Out With The Laundry

Today's Washington Post, in an unsigned editorial, complains about money laundering charges:
It may be, as the judge found, that the money-laundering statute technically applies in this situation, but its use here strikes us as odd. Ordinarily, money laundering would be taking criminal booty -- say, drug money -- and finding a way to transform it into legitimate-looking funds. In this case, though, the "proceeds of criminal activity" -- the corporate-funded campaign checks -- are the same as the alleged criminal activity itself.
Doesn't this boil down to an argument that you should never be able to be convicted of money laundering in relation to a purely financial crime (e.g., a ponzi scheme or 'sale' of non-existant real estate) because the "'proceeds of criminal activity' ... are the same as the alleged criminal activity itself"?

One of the peculiarities of modern interpretation of double jeopardy is that we frequently see what would seem to be a single criminal act split into parts, with each part subject to separate criminal charges. Drive a truckload of drugs across a border? That's separate offenses of importing drugs and possessing drugs. Forge a check and deposit it at the bank? That's separate offenses of forgery and "uttering and publishing" - hey, and if you deposit the check by mail, we can get a few more charges out of that as well.

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