Federal Superseding Indictment Charges Two Baltimore Defense Attorneys and Private Investigator for Conspiracy to Create False Records in a Federal Investigation and to Obstruct Official Proceedings
The Three Defendants Allegedly Prepared False Documents, Including an Affidavit and a Letter to a Federal Judge, to Obstruct the Investigation into Kenneth Ravenell
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned a superseding indictment against attorney Kenneth Wendell Ravenell, age 60, of Monkton, Maryland, on federal charges of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and narcotics conspiracy. The superseding indictment also adds two new defendants, attorney Joshua Reinhardt Treem, age 73, of Columbia, and Sean Francis Gordon, age 45, of Crownsville, a private investigator who worked for both Ravenell and Treem. The superseding indictment charges Treem and Gordon, along with Ravenell, with a conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, specifically, to create false records and documents and to obstruct an official proceeding in order to protect members of the conspiracy who were under investigation by federal law enforcement and federal grand juries sitting in Baltimore, including Ravenell himself. Ravenell, Treem, and Gordon are also charged with one count of falsification of documents, and obstructing an official proceeding; Ravenell and Treem are charged with two counts of falsification of records in a federal investigation; and Gordon is charged with one count of falsification of records in a federal investigation. The superseding indictment was returned late on December 17, 2020.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office.
“Attorneys are officers of the Court,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “They are not above the law. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will investigate and prosecute attorneys who violate the trust placed in them by breaking the law and obstructing justice.”
Ravenell and Treem practiced law at the same law firm in the 1990s and early 2000s. On January 21, 2016, Treem began representing Ravenell in connection with a federal grand jury investigation into Ravenell. Gordon had been previously hired by Ravenell in connection with Ravenell’s representation of a drug trafficker. Later, Gordon was retained to work with Treem and Ravenell in connection with the investigation of Ravenell. Treem continued to represent Ravenell until June 18, 2019.
The seven-count superseding indictment re-alleges the charges previously filed against Ravenell—specifically, that he violated the legitimate and lawful purpose of the law firm where he worked in order to enrich himself and Individual 1 by receiving payments from a drug trafficker client and his associates in exchange for laundering drug proceeds, obstructing justice to protect the client and his associates, and instructing the client and his associates how to evade law enforcement and continue their drug trafficking; that Ravenell allegedly knowingly protected and assisted co-conspirators in their drug trafficking by coaching co-conspirators about law enforcement techniques so that they could evade these techniques when they trafficked in narcotics; that Ravenell allegedly used the law firm’s bank accounts to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars and protect the drug trafficking organization; and that Ravenell allegedly used the law firm’s bank accounts to receive drug payments and make payments to attorneys retained to represent other members of the conspiracy, concealing and misrepresenting the source of the funds to those attorneys. Ravenell also allegedly received substantial cash payments derived from drug sales as compensation for laundering money and for protection he provided to his co-conspirators. The superseding indictment also re-alleges that Ravenell participated in a conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.
The superseding indictment adds four new counts alleging that from May 5, 2013 through December 11, 2018, Ravenell, Treem, and Gordon conspired to conceal, cover up, falsify, and make false entries in a record or document to impede, obstruct, or influence federal investigations into Ravenell and one of his clients and knowingly and corruptly impede official proceedings, specifically a grand jury investigation and federal criminal prosecution of one of Ravenell’s clients and a federal grand jury investigation and potential federal criminal prosecution of Ravenell himself. Specifically, the superseding indictment alleges that Ravenell obtained access to incarcerated individuals, whom he did not represent, and dispatched private investigators, including Gordon, to interview incarcerated individuals and civilian witnesses, so that Ravenell and others at his direction could attempt to improperly influence their testimony, attempt to cause them to execute false affidavits and witness statements which Ravenell knew to be false, and attempt to cause witnesses to withhold testimony from official proceedings.
As alleged in the superseding indictment, Treem and Gordon, at Ravenell’s direction, met with a former client of Ravenell’s, who they knew was a potential witness in a federal criminal investigation of Ravenell by the U.S. Department of Justice and a federal grand jury sitting in Baltimore and a potential criminal prosecution of Ravenell. At the meeting, Treem and Gordon allegedly presented the witness with a document, prepared by Ravenell, containing false statements exculpating Ravenell. Despite the fact that the witness told Treem and Gordon that these statements were false, the superseding indictment alleges that Treem and Gordon urged the witness to sign the document.
The superseding indictment alleges that Ravenell, Treem, and Gordon prepared false documents, including an affidavit on behalf of Gordon that had, as an exhibit, the document containing false exculpatory statements that Treem and Gordon had urged the witness to sign, and a letter to a United States District Judge signed by Treem, relating to their interview of the witness. These documents could be used to undermine the witness’ credibility and to provide evidence of a prior consistent statement by Gordon or Treem if either one of them were to testify. The superseding indictment alleges that the letter was sent to the Judge with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence a federal investigation and prosecution of Ravenell. Finally, the superseding indictment alleges that the false affidavit prepared by Treem with Ravenell’s assistance, and which Gordon executed, was also an attempt to thwart the investigation and prosecution of Ravenell.
If convicted, Ravenell faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the racketeering conspiracy; a maximum of 20 years in prison for the money laundering conspiracy; and a maximum of life in prison for the narcotics conspiracy. If convicted, Ravenell, Treem, and Gordon face a maximum of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States; a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of falsification of records in a federal investigation; and a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of obstructing an official proceeding. The case will be handled by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, who has been assigned to preside over this case in the District of Maryland.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the IRS-CI, the DEA, the Maryland Transportation Authority Police Department, the Phoenix (Arizona) Police Department, and the Arizona Financial Crimes Task Force for their work in the investigation and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leo J. Wise and Matthew J. Maddox, who are prosecuting the case.
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