At issue is a 1988 carve-out from the federal anti-money laundering statutes that exempts attorneys from criminal liability in accepting defense fees.
"The Department of Justice has been hostile to this exemption for many years and appears not to accept the policies that underlie it," Kuehne's attorneys said in a 13-page dismissal motion. "However, it is Congress that makes the laws."
Kuehne is charged with laundering drug proceeds while vetting $5.2 million in fees collected by celebrity attorney Roy Black to defend Colombian drug kingpin Fabio Ochoa Vasquez. Kuehne, Colombian attorney Oscar Saldarriaga and accountant Gloria Florez Velez were hired to make sure the money was "free from taint" to pay Black's team.
He makes the point in his filing with flair, quoting folk rock legend Dylan's song "Like a Rolling Stone" in his motion to dismiss a wire fraud conspiracy count, writing, "When you [ain't] got nothing, you got nothing to lose."
The government alleges the defendants committed wire fraud by converting pesos to dollars to bring them to the United States and subvert the Colombian government's right to seize the assets.
Motions for Kuehne and Saldarriaga argue the Colombians never made an effort to seize the assets and to this day have not filed a forfeiture action.
Strafer, paraphrasing a decision from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said in an interview, "The government has taken off in an aircraft without wings, engines or wheels" in the wire fraud count. He is asking for additional time to file more motions hinging on complicated issues of foreign law.