MGM National Harbor ‘Investment’ Mystery at Center of Baltimore Drug-Money Trial

Posted on: January 5, 2022, 12:44h. 

Last updated on: January 5, 2022, 01:18h.

Baltimore defense attorney Ken Ravenell was convicted last week of laundering money for a drugs kingpin through the prestigious law firm he was once a partner in.

ken ravenell
Ken Ravenell leaves court after a December hearing of his money laundering trial at Baltimore District Court. (Image: CBS)

But questions remain over an alleged $2 million investment in the MGM National Harbor, which the narcotics trafficker says Ravenell helped organize for him.

The defense attorney’s lawyers claimed in court it never existed.

A federal jury convicted Ravenell December 28 of one count of money laundering, but cleared him of racketeering, narcotics, and obstruction charges.

Prosecutors said Ravenell moved more than $1 million in drug money through the books at Baltimore law firm Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, much of it dropped off in bags of cash by drug dealers working for Jamaican national Richard Byrd.  

Byrd, once Ravenell’s longtime client, is serving 26 years in prison for drugs conspiracy. But he turned against his legal fixer. Prosecutors said this was because he believed Ravenell had failed to look after the alleged casino investment on his behalf.

Byrd on a Wire

When Ravenell’s defense team visited Byrd in prison in a bid to get him to sign statements that Ravenell had nothing to do with his narcotics operation, Byrd was wearing a wire. But all he could do was talk about the alleged casino investment.

Byrd said that he handed bags of cash to Ravenell to invest in the casino through Murphy, Falcon & Murphy founder William “Billy” H. Murphy and his son, Hassan Murphy, also a lawyer at the firm.

Prosecutors said the investment was “layered through two intermediaries,” and there was no paperwork linking Byrd to the deal, for obvious reasons.

Billy and Hassan Murphy have denied Byrd had anything to do with the investment deal.

Ravenell’s defense attorney Lucius Outlaw said Byrd’s investment was a complete fabrication.

No one from the investment group will confirm Mr Byrd’s story,” Outlaw told the court last month. “No one from that list is going to come into this courtroom and say, yeah I know Richard Byrd. I know about his $2 million. No one.”

He described Byrd as “the least credible witness in the history of the federal courts.”

Defense Team Cleared

Sensationally, the two members of Ravenell’s defense team who visited Byrd in prison, attorney Josh Treem and investigator Sean Gordon, were also charged with obstruction of justice in the case. That’s after they submitted evidence that prosecutors said intended to mischaracterize the nature of Ravenell’s relationship with Byrd.

They were cleared of wrongdoing. But the legal community has been highly critical of the prosecution, saying it had chilling repercussions for defense lawyers, since Treem and Gordon were simply doing their jobs.

Ravenell will be sentenced in May and faces a maximum 20 years in prison.