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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Former New Jersey Lawyer Admits Role In Money Laundering Scheme

CAMDEN, N.J. – A former New Jersey lawyer today admitted his role in a money laundering scheme, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Michael W. Kwasnik, 49, of North Miami Beach, Florida, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden federal court to Count 12 of a superseding indictment, charging him with money laundering.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Kwasnik was previously associated with a law firm, Kwasnik, Rodio, Kanowitz and Buckley P.C. – and its successor firm, Kwasnik, Kanowitz and Associates P.C. – with offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. His father, and co-defendant, William M. Kwasnik, of Marlton, New Jersey, owned and operated an insurance company, Abby Grant, with offices in Cherry Hill and Lakewood, New Jersey.

In April 2011, Michael Kwasnik induced a client to establish an irrevocable family trust to settle his mother’s estate, with promises that any money deposited in the trust would not be invested, but rather held for the client’s benefit. With the client’s consent, Michael Kwasnik established the trust and named himself as the trustee. Based on Michael Kwasnik’s promises, the client gave Michael Kwasnik $125,774, which the client received after his mother’s death, to deposit in the trust account. Michael Kwasnik deposited the money into the trust account and the next day, transferred $125,000 to Abby Grant’s bank account, and then to the Kwasnik, Rodio, Kanowitz and Buckley P.C. bank account, without the client’s knowledge or permission. Michael Kwasnik admitted that he did so to conceal and disguise the source of the money and that it was the proceeds of a mail fraud or wire fraud scheme.

The money laundering offense to which Michael Kwasnik pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Under terms of the plea agreement, he must also forfeit $125,000 and pay restitution.

The charges against William Kwasnik remain pending, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Harpster, Philadelphia Division, and special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, Newark Division, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Deborah Prisinzano Mikkelsen and Jason Richardson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden.

Defense counsel:
Michael Kwasnik: Richard Klineburger Esq., Haddonfield, New Jersey
William Kwasnik: Daniella Gordon Esq., Moorestown, New Jersey

Press Release Number: 
Updated November 29, 2018