Today I can't do that because what happened this morning in magistrate court should not have happened.
Ben Kuehne, one of the pillars of this community, was indicted on money laundering charges. (read indictment here)
The government's theory of prosecution is outrageous. According to Jay Weaver's article:
Justice Department officials allege that Kuehne broke the law in 2002-03 when he vouched for millions paid by one-time Medellín drug lord Fabio Ochoa Vasquez to his high-profile trial attorney, Roy Black.
Kuehne's research gave Black the confidence -- in the form of legal opinion letters -- to accept payments totaling $3.7 million in fees and $1.3 million in expenses from Ochoa, according to several sources. Kuehne earned a portion of the expense payments -- $220,000 to $260,000 -- from Black for vetting Ochoa's payments.
Federal prosecutors face a formidable challenge in proving the case against Kuehne. They will have to prove that Kuehne knew Ochoa's money came from the sale of family assets to drug-trafficking associates...
This means that Ben had to have knowingly and willfully lied to Roy when telling him that the fee was okay. But what motive would Ben have for doing this? The money certainly wasn't enough to risk all of this. And Ben Kuehne of all people wouldn't have done these things for a million dollars. He's as ethical a person and lawyer as I know. I'll comment a lot more on the charges once I've had a chance to digest the indictment which was unsealed this morning in mag court.
We all know the real reason for this prosecution -- to discourage lawyers from taking these kinds of cases.
I walked away from him thinking just the opposite. This is a terrible day for our country. Ben will be acquitted. But at what cost to him? And our justice system? Now, more than ever, it's critical to fight for our Constitution and our justice system.
In court, Ben commented to Magistrate Judge Brown: "since I am completely innocent of these charges, I am entering a plea of not guilty.'' He is represented by John Nields and Jane Moscowitz.
A bit of good news -- the case was assigned to Judge Marcia Cooke. As I have commented before, she is as fair and just.
UPDATED -- here's a DBR story about the case.