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Top Boston defense attorney charged with money laundering

Top Boston defense attorney charged with money laundering
By Laurel J. Sweet  |   Wednesday, March 23, 2011  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Coverage

Photo by Matthew West

One of Boston’s best known defense attorneys, Robert A. George, has been charged with laundering more than $225,000 in drug money in a sting that used two informants and an undercover drug agent, U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz announced today.

George, 56, of Westwood, whose A-list criminal clients have included mobster Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and Christopher McCowen, the Cape Cod trash collector convicted of murdering fashion writer Christa Worthington, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the scheme prosecutors allege began in 2009 and involved a federal informant paid a $2,500 finder’s fee for referring a client to him.

George was released after his arraignment today on a $50,000 unsecured bond but must surrender his passport and submit to a drug test, Magistrate Judge Robert Collings ordered today in U.S. District Court in Boston.

George, who rolled his eyes and appeared to mouth something to the press pack at the hearing, was arrested at his home this morning by DEA agents.

In a 13-page affidavit, prosecutors allege an undercover DEA agent and two “cooperating witnesses” set up deals with George to launder cash — $100,000 in one case — beginning in March of 2009 and lasting more than a year. George used a connection from Dover who ran a business in Dedham to handle the cash exchange, prosecutors allege.

The alleged money-laundering deals were videotaped and audio taped, federal officials state.

“Defense counsel play a critical role in the criminal justice system, protecting important constitutional rights upon which we all depend,” Ortiz said. “But when an attorney assists in the criminal concealment and laundering of drug money — as is alleged in this case — it impedes the administration of justice and is an affront to all ethical and law-abiding members of the bar.”

Steven Derr, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New England Field Division, said, “If convicted, Mr. George is no better than those who distribute illegal drugs.”

George could not be immediately reached.

Brockton attorney Kevin Reddington, a longtime friend and colleague, will be representing George in the laundering case. Reddington said he spoke with George’s wife shortly after the attorney was arrested at his house and spoke with George this morning.

“Anyone of us, whether it’s attorneys or court personnel or the media know that Bob is a real warrior. He’s a guy that has a very good reputation as an aggressive trial lawyer. He’s respected on both sides of the table in the courtroom,” Reddington told the Herald today. “He’s maintaining his innocence 100 percent and looks forward to proving it in court.”

Dave Wedge and Joe Dwinell contributed.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1325478

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