Certain state-level offenses may also lead to separate federal felony charges for money laundering. As noted by the Department of Justice, knowingly completing or attempting to complete a transaction with funds received from an unlawful activity may result in money laundering charges.
An individual may have received cash resulting from theft, fraud or drug dealing. A federal prosecutor may then file money laundering charges by claiming the individual knew the funds came from unlawful activity and then moved those proceeds through a U.S. financial institution.
A money laundering transaction may take several forms
To convict on federal charges, a prosecutor may show that one or more transactions caused money allegedly obtained unlawfully to become layered with funds held in an existing financial account. The transactions could include transferring funds between bank or securities trading accounts.
A federal prosecutor may also allege that a defendant introduced illicit funds into the U.S. economy by spending it on valuable property such as artwork or real estate. The United States Department of Justice’s definition of a “transaction” includes gifts, loans or pledges.
Theft charges lead to federal money laundering charges
As reported by U.S. News & World Report, two brothers who have pleaded not guilty to theft charges also face federal money laundering charges. Prosecutors claim they deposited the alleged illicit funds into a financial account and transferred the money to other individuals. The brothers purportedly obtained the funds unlawfully from local businesses.
A conviction for money laundering requires proof that an individual knowingly received funds from unlawful activity. A prosecutor must also prove an individual deposited those funds into a financial account and intentionally moved it to make it appear as though the money came from a legitimate enterprise.