New York Penal Law § 470.20: Money laundering in the first degree

In order to hide proceeds from criminal activity such as drug dealing, gambling, fraud or theft, those involved in such criminal activity sometimes take steps to make it appear as if the money was obtain through legal activities. This is called money laundering. Money laundering is regularly used not only by those involved in drug trafficking, illegal gambling, and prostitution, but elected officials have even been known to be involved in money laundering in an effort to hide the true source of campaign funds. There are 8 different money laundering crimes in New York. Money laundering in the first degree is one of the 2 most serious money laundering offenses in the New York criminal code. Under New York Penal Law § 470.20 you could be prosecuted for money laundering in the first degree if you:

  1. Know that a financial transaction represents the proceeds of criminal conduct and you
    1. Conduct at least one financial transaction with intent to carry on the criminal conduct or with intent to violate federal tax law,
    2. Conduct at least one financial transaction knowing that it was designed to hide the nature, location or control of the criminal conduct
    3. Conduct at least one financial transaction that is designed to avoid required transaction reporting and the amount of the transaction or transactions exceeds $500,000
  2. Conduct at least one financial transaction that:
    1. Involves property that is the proceeds of criminal conduct or property that was used to conduct or facilitate criminal conduct with intent to promote that conduct, hide the nature, location or control of the conduct or avoid transaction reporting and the transaction or transactions exceeds $1,000,000.
Example

Edmund was a drug dealer and also operated a string of restaurants. Clyde worked for Edmund helping him distribute the drugs and also operated a restaurant supply business. Each time Clyde had to make a purchase from Edmund, Edmund paid Clyde an inflated amount that would also cover the other "services" that Edmund performed for Clyde. Among other things, Edmund could be prosecuted for money laundering.

Related Offenses
  1. Money laundering in support of terrorism in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 470.24
Defenses

Oftentimes the person or institution doing the money laundering is not aware that the money was obtain from criminal activity. For example, if a person involved in criminal activity opens multiple bank accounts in order to hide the total amount of money being deposited, the banks and their employees could not be convicted of money laundering if they had no idea that the person making the deposits received the money from criminal activity.

Sentence

Money laundering in the first degree is a class B felony. If you are convicted of this crime your sentence may include up to 25 years in prison and 5 years of probation. In addition, New York Penal Law § 470.25 states that you can also be required to pay a fine of up to two times the amount of money involved in the money laundering scheme.

New York Penal Law § 470.20: Money laundering in the first degree

A person is guilty of money laundering in the first degree when:

  1. Knowing that the property involved in one or more financial transactions represents:
    1. the proceeds of the criminal sale of a controlled substance, he or she conducts one or more such financial transactions which in fact involve the proceeds of the criminal sale of a controlled substance: (i) With intent to: (A) promote the carrying on of specified criminal conduct; or (B) engage in conduct constituting a felony as set forth in section eighteen hundred three, eighteen hundred four, eighteen hundred five, or eighteen hundred six of the tax law; or (ii) Knowing that the transaction or transactions in whole or in part are designed to: (A) conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership or the control of the proceeds of specified criminal conduct; or (B) avoid any transaction reporting requirement imposed by law; and (iii) The total value of the property involved in such financial transaction or transactions exceeds five hundred thousand dollars; or

    2. the proceeds of a class A, B or C felony, or of a crime in any other jurisdiction that is or would be a class A, B or C felony under the laws of this state, he or she conducts one or more such financial transactions which in fact involve the proceeds of any such felony: (i) With intent to: (A) promote the carrying on of specified criminal conduct; or (B) engage in conduct constituting a felony as set forth in section eighteen hundred three, eighteen hundred four, eighteen hundred five, eighteen hundred six of the tax law; or (ii) Knowing that the transaction or transactions in whole or in part are designed to: (A) conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership or the control of the proceeds of specified criminal conduct; or (B) avoid any transaction reporting requirement imposed by law; and (iii) The total value of the property involved in such financial transaction or transactions exceeds one million dollars.

  2. He or she conducts one or more financial transactions involving property represented to be:
    1. the proceeds of the criminal sale of a controlled substance, or represented to be property used to conduct or facilitate the criminal sale of a controlled substance: (i) With intent to: (A) promote the carrying on of specified criminal conduct; or (B) conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership or the control of property believed to be the proceeds of specified criminal conduct; or (C) avoid any transaction reporting requirement imposed by law; and (ii) The total represented value of the property involved in such financial transaction or transactions exceeds five hundred thousand dollars; or

    2. the proceeds of a class A, B or C felony or of a crime in any other jurisdiction that is or would be a class A, B or C felony under the laws of this state, or represented to be property used to conduct or facilitate such crimes: (i) With intent to: (A) promote the carrying on of specified criminal conduct; or (B) conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership or the control of property believed to be the proceeds of specified criminal conduct; or

    3. avoid any transaction reporting requirement imposed by law; and (ii) The total represented value of the property involved in such financial transaction or transactions exceeds one million dollars.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Money laundering in the first degree is among the most serious crimes in New York. If you are convicted you could end up spending over 2 decades in prison away from your family and friends. In addition, you may be ordered to pay a significant fine. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with money laundering, conspiracy, criminal facilitation, enterprise corruption, and other serious crimes. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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