GREENBELT, Md. (WJZ) -- Baltimore attorney Ken Ravenell has represented some of the city's highest-profile defendants for years. On Tuesday afternoon, he appeared before a judge in a criminal case that could send him to prison for life.
"While he regrets that this fight has been unfairly brought to him, he will not run away from it," said Lucious Outlaw III, Ravenell's lawyer. "He looks forward to proving his innocence and defeating the government's five-years-and-running effort to tarnish his name."
Outlaw did not take questions, and Ravenell did not speak to reporters.
He left court with his family by his side.
Judge Theresa Buchanan warned Ravenell, "These are serious charges." She allowed him to go free while awaiting trial on the condition that he have no direct contact with witnesses and remain within Maryland and Washington, DC. Ravenell's lawyers had asked that he be allowed to freely travel in the continental United States.
A grand jury indicted Ravenell on September 18th on charges of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and narcotics conspiracy. The charges are connected to his relationship with a client.
If convicted, Mr. Ravenell faces life in prison on the charge that he conspired to distribute one thousand kilograms or more of marijuana. The other charges carry 20-year maximum sentences.
According to the indictment, the allegations date back a decade.
Prosecutors told the judge they plan to call 39 witnesses to help them prove their case, some of them work for Baltimore's most prominent law firms.
The indictment alleges Ravenell went to great lengths to protect his client—a drug kingpin—and his client's associates. The allegations include witness intimidation, including "that Ravenell obtained access to incarcerated co-conspirators, whom he did not represent, so that Ravenell could attempt to improperly influence their testimony, attempt to cause them to execute false affidavits and witness statements, which he knew to be false, and attempt to cause witnesses to withhold testimony from official proceedings against his client," according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office.
Federal prosecutors allege Ravenell received money from drug proceeds in exchange for providing protection and laundering money.
"Further, the indictment alleges that Ravenell 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," the government wrote. "Ravenell allegedly used the law firm's bank accounts to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars and protect the drug trafficking organization. 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 has spent more than three decades as a lawyer and even argued before the Supreme Court.
His lawyers said in court Tuesday that he had been aware of the federal investigation for the past five years.
The judge ordered Ravenell to notify his clients about his legal troubles. Prosecutors complained in court that he had not yet notified the Maryland Bar. "I'll leave that to him and the Bar," Judge Buchanan said.
Among those on the list of potential witnesses is Ravenell's son. The judge said they could still have contact—but not regarding the case.
Ravenell's lawyers argued he is no risk of flight.
"He's dedicated the last 30-plus years to representing people in the toughest fight of their lives," Outlaw said.
Ravenell is considered innocent until proven guilty in court.
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