Money Laundering, a.k.a. Representing Your Client Too Well


This week a federal judge reversed the money laundering conviction of Gary, Indiana, attorney Jerry Jarrett, concluding that the government had vindictively prosecuted him on trumped-up charges after he represented a client too well. The client in question, Gary physician Jong Hi Bek, is on trial in federal court for drug distribution and health care fraud, based on allegations that he knowingly wrote inappropriate painkiller prescriptions. In 2003 Jarrett embarrassed local prosecutors by forcing them to withdraw murder charges against Bek that were tied to the deaths of two patients. (It turned out that one patient probably died of a heroin overdose, while the other had a heart attack.) Now one of those local prosecutors, Susan Collins, is an assistant U.S. attorney handling the federal case against Bek.

After unsuccessfully seeking to have Jarrett removed as Bek's defense attorney, federal prosecutors forced him off the case by charging him with money laundering, based on what U.S. District Judge William Lee viewed as transparently false testimony. Lee said the main prosecution witness, a convicted money launderer named Gregory Goode, "ranks as one of the worst witnesses to ever take the stand on the governmen's behalf. Jarrett, during his cross-examination of Goode, fully displayed that Goode is an absolute liar and will say whatever benefits him at the moment."

As Jarett Decker showed in the June 2004 issue of Reason, this sort of retaliatory prosecution is part of a pattern at the Justice Department.

[Thanks to Siobhan Reynolds for the link.]