Lawyer sentenced to three years

The three-week trial focused on the increasing role of lawyers as facilitators in money laundering.

The Toronto Star
March 31, 2005

Lawyer sentenced to three years
Judge also imposes $43,230 fine in money laundering case. Says she's convinced Rosenfeld has offshore bank accounts.
Betsy Powell

A Toronto lawyer has been sentenced to three years in prison for laundering some $500,000 in phony cocaine profits in an RCMP undercover sting operation.

Simon Rosenfeld, 58, was found guilty by a jury in February of two counts of money laundering and one count of attempting to possess the proceeds of crime.

He denied the charges and, yesterday, declined Justice Tamarin Dunnet's offer to address the court before sentence was passed.

He was also ordered to pay a $43,230 fine, equivalent to his eight per cent commission on the two money-laundering transactions he made in 2002 for an undercover agent posing as a Colombian drug cartel member.

Failure to pay the fine after one year will add another year to his sentence, Dunnet said.

After sentencing, the civil lawyer slipped a red ski jacket over his suit and handed his tie to his brother. Rosenfeld, free on bail since his arrest in August 2002, was then handcuffed and led out of the courtroom.

Defence lawyer Steve Skurka, who did not represent Rosenfeld at his trial, said he will file a notice of appeal and seek bail for Rosenfeld in the near future.

During the sentencing hearing two weeks ago, Rosenfeld's trial lawyer, Glen Orr, asked the judge to put aside his client's "boastfulness and lies" — as Dunnet referred to it yesterday — that were caught on the police surveillance tape.

When reading her decision, however, Dunnet cited several of Rosenfeld's comments to undercover RCMP Insp. Bill Majcher to show how he abused his position as a lawyer and sullied the profession.

While Orr had argued there was no evidence to suggest Rosenfeld previously had laundered money, Dunnet yesterday pointed to Rosenfeld discussing "a virtual catalogue of money- laundering techniques" on the recordings played to the jury.

Dunnet also commented on Rosenfeld's "lavish lifestyle" and his boasts about not holding assets in his name. She said despite living in a $2 million home that is in his wife's name, having a $750,000 art collection and telling Majcher he earned between $1 million and $3 million a year, Rosenfeld declared only $25,000 in annual income.

Dunnet said she's convinced Rosenfeld controls several offshore bank accounts. He declared bankruptcy after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ordered him to pay a $2.8 million (U.S.) fine in 2001 for stock-trading violations in that country. Last summer, the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected his attempt to have his bankruptcy discharged, saying he had not been fully forthcoming about his assets.

She said Rosenfeld appears unremorseful and cited parts of the recordings where he mocked the Canadian judicial system and the light sentences given white-collar criminals.

Crown attorney Rosemary Warren had asked for a penitentiary sentence of five to seven years to signal Canada's commitment to fight money laundering, particularly corrupt lawyers who engage in the practice.

In support, Warren pointed to Canadian and American case law. But Dunnet, while commending the Crown's thoroughness at the sentencing hearing, said she relied only on Canadian case law even though there are "relatively few" such sentencing cases.

Nor did Dunnet follow the Crown's suggestion for a harsher sentence because Rosenfeld had entered into an "ongoing" commitment to launder drug money. Dunnet said she considered only the two wire transfers Rosenfeld arranged for the undercover officer. Dunnet said her "paramount" emphasis was "general deterrence."

Rosenfeld was snared in an FBI-RCMP securities fraud and money-laundering investigation called Bermuda Short. He was the second Canadian lawyer to be tried and convicted for money laundering.

The three-week trial focused on the increasing role of lawyers as facilitators in money laundering. Yesterday, Dunnet referred to the Law Society's plans to change its rules of professional conduct to prohibit lawyers accepting large amounts of cash ($7,500 or more) from clients or third parties. The changes are slated to take effect next year.

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