Overview of Money Laundering Control Act of 1986.

The Money Laundering Control Act makes it a federal crime to hide the source of “dirty” money. In other words, it is a federal crime to take part in financial deals that are intended to hide the illegal nature of the money. This law is divided into two sections.

First, Section 1956 bans three types of activities:

  1. Transaction-Money Laundering; 
  2. Transportation-Money Laundering; and
  3. Sting Operations.  

Second, Section 1957 makes it a crime to take part in financial deals using dirty money that exceeds $10,000.00. 

What are examples of Money Laundering activities?

Examples of money laundering include:

  • Drug dealers investing drug money into legal or legitimate businesses to hide or disguise the source of the dirty money;
  • Transporting drug proceeds from the United States to Mexico with intent to conceal or disguise the nature, the source, the ownership, or control of the funds;
  • Reverse-money laundering deals. Occurs in Sting Operations when undercover officers or informants represent they are drug dealers and are looking for a money launderer to “clean” the drug proceeds; and
  • Withdrawing more than $10,000.00 from a bank account to buy a cashier’s check knowing the funds were derived from medicare or medicaid fraud;

Federal Money Laundering Penalties

Money Laundering Penalties

StatutePunishment RangeFine
Section 1956Up to 20 years in prison.Potential fine of up to $500,000.00 or twice the value of the property involved, whichever is greater.

*Possible Civil Penalty.
Section 1957Up to 10 years in prison.Potential fine of not more than $250,000.00 or twice the amount involved in the transaction.

* Possible Civil Penalty.

Defense Options

The Money Laundering Control Act outlaws a wide variety of financial-criminal activities. Further, this law carries stiff penalties for people convicted of a money laundering crime. However, it is important to take a step back when dealing with money laundering crimes.

For example, one common issue in money laundering cases is criminal intent. The government must prove this element before a person can be convicted of laundering money. And in many cases, the government has more than ample proof on this issue. But not always. For this reason, the defense should always explore whether the government can prove the defendant acted with criminal intent.

In addition, a vast majority of people charged with a money laundering crime plead guilty. They do so in hopes of getting a lighter sentence. And for many defendants, pleading guilty frequently results in a lower sentence. This may include qualifying for a 5K1.1 substantial assistance motion. Or it could also include a request for a downward variance or departure. The final sentence will always depend on the sentencing judge.

In short, a defendant charged with a money laundering crime has options. And he or she must explore these options to determine what is best for his or her situation. For some people, going to trial is the best option. And yet for other defendants, pleading guilty and cooperating with authorities may result in a lower sentence. A qualified and experienced lawyer will help you make the best decision for your case.

San Antonio Money Laundering Criminal Defense

Genaro Cortez is a San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorney.  He handles all types of federal money laundering cases in San Antonio and South Texas.
Genaro Cortez is a San Antonio Money Laundering Defense Attorney.

Genaro R. Cortez is a white-collar criminal defense attorney. He frequently handles money laundering cases in San Antonio and South Texas.  This includes taking complex criminal cases to trial in San Antonio Federal Court. 

Law Office of Genaro R. Cortez, P.L.L.C.

730 West Hildebrand Avenue
Suite 2,
San Antonio, Texas 78212
Phone: 210-733-7575
Fax: 210-733-7578
Email: genaro.cortez@cortezlawyer.org