Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Philly lawyer disbarred for money laundering in multimillion-dollar drug ring

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A Philadelphia lawyer who was convicted on six counts of laundering money for a multimillion-dollar drug ring, was disbarred this week in Pennsylvania by the state’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

J. Michael Farrell, 65, currently is serving a three-year federal sentence in Philadelphia. His license to practice law has been suspended since 2017, when jury found him guilty on a total of 10 charges that also included witness tampering.

Federal prosecutors said that from 2009 to 2013, Farrell worked with the so-called “Nicka Organization,” a crime family based in Baltimore that distributed thousands of pounds illegal weed throughout the mid-Atlantic states.

A 2009 DEA raid on the group’s headquarters turned up 80 pounds of marijuana, 30 cell phones, and a ledger showing $14 million in marijuana sales. Evidence also implicated Farrell — who had an office at 7th and Arch Streets — with concealing the origin of the organization’s ill-gotten earnings.

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During his 15-day trial, witnesses testified that Farrell deposited drug money into his own account and concealed its source; paid for legal representation for other conspirators; and bought and sent money orders to jailed members of the crime family.

The three alleged leaders of the drug organization — David D’Amico, of Baltimore; Matthew Nicka, of Baltimore; and Gretchen Peterson, of Kennett Square — pleaded guilty and were each sentenced to fewer than 10 years in prison.

Farrell is scheduled to be released from a residential reentry center in July 2020.

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