The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a request by prominent attorney Kenneth Ravenell to review his 2021 money laundering conviction, paving the way for him to report to federal prison.

Ravenell was sentenced to almost five years in a case that involved helping a drug dealer client conceal funds, but he has been free pending attempts to have his conviction overturned.

The Supreme Court did not issue an explanation for its decision, instead listing it among a number of cases it was also declining to take up.

Ravenell’s attorneys asked the U.S. District Court judge overseeing his case to allow him to report to a minimum security prison camp in Fairton, New Jersey, on or after May 6 so that he can keep a medical appointment and “order his affairs.”

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The allegations in the case span more than a decade. Ravenell’s client, Richard Byrd, was indicted in 2014 for running a cross-country cannabis operation. Ravenell first represented Byrd in the 1990s, when Byrd was a stick-up boy in Park Heights and Ravenell won him an acquittal in a murder case. Over the years, Byrd developed a sophisticated cannabis operation and also built successful clothing and nightclub businesses.

“Me and Mr. Ravenell used to have these meetings where we’d discuss the nuts and bolts of everything, and structure of how we’re going to operate to make sure that the government is not alerted to what we’re doing or how we cover our tracks,” Byrd testified at Ravenell’s trial. “You’d have to look at him like a Bill Belichick and me like a Tom Brady — he draws the plays up, and I run them.”

Authorities raided Ravenell’s office at the Murphy Firm in 2014. He stopped taking federal criminal cases at the time, but wasn’t indicted until 2019.

Byrd flipped and became a witness for the government, wearing a wire when Ravenell’s defense attorney and a private investigator came to meet him in prison. That attorney, Joshua Treem, and the investigator, Sean Gordon, were charged in 2020. Prominent members of the city legal community decried what they said was an overzealous prosecution.

Treem and Gordon were acquitted by jurors, but Ravenell was convicted.

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A three-judge panel on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Ravenell’s appeal in April 2023, and he sought to have the full court take up the case in what is called an “en banc” hearing. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers wrote an amicus brief on his behalf.

The court denied the request. That left the Supreme Court as a final step in the appeals process. Its move on Monday means the federal appeals court’s decision to uphold Ravenell’s conviction stands.

Justin Fenton is an investigative reporter for the Baltimore Banner. He previously spent 17 years at the Baltimore Sun, covering the criminal justice system. His book, "We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption," was released by Random House in 2021 and became an HBO miniseries.

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