PROLOGUE

 

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Let us sacrifice one day to gain perhaps a whole life...Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise…Diamonds are found only in the dark bowels of the earth; truths are found only in the depths of thought. It seemed to him that after descending into those depths after long groping in the blackest of this darkness, he had at last found one of these diamonds, one of these truths, and that he held it in his hand; and it blinded him to look at it.

 Victor Hugo
Les Misérables

On March 23, 2011, I was arrested on a federal criminal complaint signed only the day before for seven counts of conspiracy to money launder, money laundering and structuring financial transactions.  My sudden arrest came after a two-year undercover investigation that employed, among other things, the use of a paid government informant and career criminal named Ronald Dardinski as well as a cooperating federal witness named Michael Hansen, a mortgage broker from Dover, Massachusetts.  The case was brought by Massachusetts United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s Office and was engineered and prosecuted by Dardinski’s long time handlers, DEA Agent Joseph Tamuleviz and Assistant United States Attorney Laura J. Kaplan. 

 After a fifteen-month pre-trial period during which we challenged these charges on the basis of prosecutorial vindictiveness and other grounds, I exercised my constitutional right to a trial by jury in the United States District Court in Boston, Massachusetts in May through June 2012.  My attorney Robert M. Goldstein set forth our defense in his opening statement at the outset of my case:

 …I am proud to represent Robert George, who, the evidence will show, has been wrongfully charged by his government. Robert George has committed no crime and that is what the evidence will show. Let me say that again---Robert George, a prominent Boston attorney who has spent a lifetime defending citizens in prosecutions brought by this government, has committed no crime. That is what the evidence, presented here in this courtroom, will show. We have what I believe to be powerful evidence-evidence perhaps unknown by the government. In the end, though, whether or not Ronald Dardinski has been completely forthright and honest with the government, and I have no reason to expect that to be the case, given his virtually unprecedented track record of deception, I expect the evidence to demonstrate that the government's case is poisoned at its essence, built on a carefully crafted, but ultimately illusory and toxic foundation, that will come crashing down like the proverbial house of cards.

 When the trial evidence concluded, my attorney Kevin J. Reddington addressed the jury and summed up the Government’s case on June 8, 2012:

 Now, how do you know that this is a setup? Well, can you imagine the odds? What are the odds that the same individual, Ronnie Dardinski, in 2004, is working with the same U.S. Attorney's Office in this building and they want to have a consensual wire again so that Ronnie Dardinski can record the conversations that he's having with poor, hapless Bob George, who thinks he's his friend. He knows he's his client...but Dardinski reaches out to the U.S. Attorney's Office.  And…what happens then? The same U.S. Attorney's Office wants to bug him, wants to set up meetings, wants to set up wires, and they want to record Bob George back in 2004. Why? Why? You have to ask yourself. Here's a prosecution of -- how many times do we have to hear "30-year criminal defense attorney"? Or Tamuleviz's reports: "high-profile, criminal defense attorney," when he writes up his request? How repulsive. How repugnant. This is our government at work.  To take down one man, ruin his life, ruin his life and his family… How many times does a citizen have to say no and step back from Dardinski and Tamuleviz?...as Mr. Goldstein said, how many times do you have to thrust money, virtually thrust money? …The United States of America vs. Bob George is a travesty…

 At the conclusion of eight days of trial I was nonetheless convicted of the charges against me.  On October 31, 2012, despite a request for a much longer sentence by the Government, the Court sentenced me to 42 months in federal prison.  I will start serving that sentence on January 15, 2013.  I did not petition the court for a stay of my sentence because I intend to serve my term of incarceration as quickly and uneventfully as possible.  

 I fully cooperated with Bar Counsel after my conviction on June 8, 2012 by agreeing to a temporary suspension of my license to practice law in the Commonwealth on June 21, 2012.  Therefore, I am not able to take on any new cases as result of this legal predicament and have transferred my pending cases to other competent counsel.  My current licensing status is available for review at the Board of Bar Overseers website at http://massbbo.org/bbolookup.php.  Up until that point, I had been a successful practicing criminal trial attorney with no history of public discipline over a career of almost 32 years. The Board of Bar Overseers provides this information as well on its website.  

 On November 12, 2012, I appealed my conviction to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and will vigorously pursue the appeal of my case.     All of the documents and pleadings filed in my defense are available for the public’s review at https://ecf.mad.uscourts.gov.  I encourage anyone seeking to understand my case and the charges against me to visit that website and examine its contents by looking the case up at United States v. Robert A. George, Docket Number 11-CR-10201-NMG.  Additionally, the news coverage of my trial was widespread and is accessible at Trial Media Coverage.  I again recommend that anyone seeking to understand my case should visit this resource.

Although I cannot otherwise discuss my trial, appeal or opinion of the charges against me at this time, I did publicly discuss my case when I addressed the Court at my sentencing on October 31, 2012.  Those words are set forth here for everyone to review:

Your Honor, I could have written a letter and included it in the sentencing package filed last week.  It would have been easier but my comments are meant to let you know who stands before you.  It is because you do not know anything about me that I am asking you lend me your ear for just a few moments in what is perhaps the last statement I will give in a courtroom.  These words are not an effort to persuade you in any way, shape or form as to your sentence because I am not looking for sympathy or mercy…I know you have carefully studied the sentencing documents filed in this case and have likely made up your mind after thinking long and hard about it.

I had been a licensed attorney for 32 years until I agreed to a temporary suspension two weeks after my conviction on June 8, 2012.  For all of that time, I was proud to carry on as a trial lawyer, Boston-bred and raised, as I represented people accused of crimes no matter who they were.  I was doing good things for people who needed it and I was privileged to do it in the criminal courts.

When I was arrested much to my surprise on March 23, 2011 by an army of federal agents in the home where I raised my wonderful family, my world was changed forever.  These past nineteen months have been incredibly painful and at some points almost unbearable for not just me but my family.  Since that time I have been labeled a criminal by this government based upon an investigation that twisted, turned, stopped and started for over two years. 

I really knew things were very different when you told me, in a kind way, that I was no longer welcome at sidebar after jury selection had concluded in this case.  After that point I was no longer a lawyer trying cases and in control of what was happening around me as I had been doing for well over thirty years.  I then became a defendant accused of federal crimes fighting for his life.  I fully understood the high conviction rate at the Federal level, but always knew that I needed to exercise my constitutional right to a trial—a right I have grown to cherish over 32 years as a trial attorney—to try to unearth the true facts behind the government’s investigation.  That is not denial-it is my right.  For example, it was not until mid-trial that we learned the government authorized a third $100,000 in cash, supposedly to crush any defense I might have to their investigation. They could not persuade me to even meet with Dardinski in January 2011 to try to drop that cash on my lap or record me on prison phones in December 2004 but it is conduct of this nature that is shocking to me, even after 32 years as a practicing criminal defense attorney.  

You understood the stakes for me when you said months ago in a pretrial hearing that I was fighting for my professional life.  I have lived by the rules of this system and I know my appeal and post-trial motioning will continue to legally address what has happened.  We will deal with it, get through to the other side and remake our lives in spite of this legal tragedy.

So the danger here is that it may appear I am not remorseful.  Please realize that I do feel sorrow.  I live with the sorrow that we all must be here for this hearing, that I will not represent people who still and will need me and will deal with the repercussions of this case for the rest of my life.  That is my continuing pain, a deep ache I carry with me every single day.  Your Honor, I could not ever plead guilty to these charges because I was not guilty.  I did not go to trial just to save my bar card, a privilege I have carried with me proudly and loudly for the past thirty-two years.  I went before a jury hoping that they would see this case differently but they did not.  Again such is my right and it is not denial.  I am pursuing an appeal, so I hope you understand I cannot comment on the evidence or case in great detail.

I also must apologize to you, and to all in the criminal defense bar, for the coarse way in which I sounded on the tapes you have heard and seen.  Yet please understand that these were small moments in time over two full years in the privacy of what I believed to be an attorney-client relationship with Dardinski and a relationship with Hansen that had lasted for many years.  Your Honor, because you only heard a fraction of the talk that took place over those two years with huge gaps of time in between my words and actions are completely out of context.   Just as if someone read a few lines from each of the five acts of Macbeth they could not possibly know the substance or spirit of the whole story penned by Shakespeare. 

The true story here is that a client, Dardinski, told me that he was seeking help for a legal problem, a probation surrender case in Dedham with unpaid restitution.  It is mentioned over and over again on the taped evidence from our first conversation until the last one two years later.  I made a mistake in not turning him away because I never had any intention of engaging in anything illegal and I now know that he was determined to “get” me for wrongs real and imagined.   I rarely turned anyone away, no matter who they were and where they came from.  I had known Dardinski for ten years, he had been a source of business and for sure a man with a long criminal record.  But that was my business and he was the type of client I dealt with every hour of every day for thirty-two years.

I should never have sent him to Hansen, a man who was to me a legitimate mortgage broker and businessman whom I had known for years.  He had handled my own mortgages and I had sent many clients to him, never to launder money.  Hansen told the authorities the same thing –that I had never sent a client to him to launder money -- but he was not called as a witness.  I never expected a penny for the referral to Hansen.  When he offered it to me well after his deals were done, I was taken by surprise, and will forever regret my decision to accept those funds.    

The government is seeking a sentence much longer than others of this type just because I went to trial.  Please remember that they are seeking this long sentence even though I was not talking to either Hansen or Dardinski during the fifteen month period when they dealt with one another.  

Your Honor, if you take anything from my words, please know that there was never any meeting at the South Shore Plaza nor did I ever solicit a money laundering arrangement with Dardinski after not seeing him for almost four years.  It never happened and is as ridiculous as it seems.   

I never thought the money involved here was allegedly connected to drugs or any criminal activity whatsoever.  I am not, as this USAO has falsely claimed in their public statements, a gatekeeper for drug cartels.  They know it and the evidence in this case proved that such talk is fabrication.  Your Honor, please understand, when I was running from case to case, court to court, family event to family event, day to day, week after week and month after month, I could not see that these people were after me.   I only sought to do the best I could possibly do for someone who had asked me for help.  This is the truth of what has happened here and it was nothing else.   

To call me greedy is a joke.  I have not ever cared about money because as you have heard I don’t count it and never lived for it.  In fact, I never knew I was broke until the government put up its big boards during the trial.  I always thought I was the richest man in the world.  So to hear the DEA and this USAO release statements claiming I traded the good life for greed is just not true. 

The government has claimed I am hiding money as they file notices, seek forfeitures, subpoena my family’s records, try to secure astronomical fines and apply for court orders searching for my off shore accounts and money in other people’s names.  Your Honor, either I am broke and bouncing checks like their experts have claimed or I am rich.  It can’t be both.

When I refused efforts to enlist me in Dardinski’s dealings without success over and over again for two full years, they kept coming.  When he tried to meet me to throw money in my lap on January 24, 2011 and that trap failed, they still kept coming.  They kept coming when they confronted Hansen in his house, made him a deal and told him to offer me a referral fee that he never intended in the first place.  And they kept after me when Dardinski brought me Officer Nieves posing as a new client who retained me after signing a representation agreement in 2012.

In conclusion, everyone here and others too many to count have provided me love, support and their best wishes during this long ordeal.  I have grown up with them, represented them, lived with them and I have tried to return their love in spades.  My family loves me and will never abandon me because they believe in me.

It is hard to drive by the many courthouses in which I labored for so long.  In those buildings, I have many friends, from custodians to judges, to whom I have not had the chance to say goodbye.  I have been unable to work since June and it is the first time I have been unemployed since I was fifteen years old.  I am a convicted felon at almost 58 years old and my professional life has been destroyed.   People and places long familiar to me seem far, far away.  I am no longer comfortable in my own skin. 

My fall from grace has been long and hard but it has been said that broken trees, if they grow again at all, grow back stronger.  I hope to come out of this situation stronger at my broken places so I can do better things for people in the time I have left.  However long that time may be…

Every word of what I said to the Court at that difficult proceeding still rings true today.  As set forth in my Mission Statement, I have also now been “the prisoner in the dock” and viewed the “the awful court of judgment” not just as an attorney, but as a convicted defendant.  I will not ever give up and will continue to assert my innocence.  Through my appeal and other post conviction avenues, we will endlessly fight to prove that I am not guilty of these crimes.  I am hoping that day comes sooner rather than later.

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