A federal judge sentenced prominent Boston criminal defense lawyer Robert A. George today to 3 1/2 years in prison for money laundering and related crimes.
“It is a sad day today for the entire legal profession, bench and bar alike,’’ US District Judge Nathaniel A. Gorton said as he sentenced George.
George, 57, who was convicted in June of helping a former client launder $200,000 in profits from crimes, insisted on his innocence before he was sentenced in the Boston courthouse.
“I know it pains everyone that I am standing here, pleading for myself the way I have for clients for so many years,’’ George said. “I only sought to do what I could for somebody who asked for help.’’
“It’s hard to drive by the many courthouses that I have labored in for so many years,’’ he said. “My fall from grace has been long and hard.’’
Gorton also fined George $12,500 and ordered him to forfeit his Lexus and $39,500. The judge ordered George to surrender on Jan. 15.
Robert Goldstein, George’s attorney, said after the hearing, “I don’t think any reasonable person can rebut the assertion’’ that the informant who played a key role in convicting George had “a plan and that plan was to somehow exact revenge on Mr. George.’’
Prosecutors had asked for a prison sentence of more than five years, while defense attorneys requested an 18-month sentence. George was convicted of seven counts of conspiracy, money laundering, and structuring bank deposits to avoid government scrutiny.
Ronald Dardinski, who secretly recorded conversations with George while working as a government informant, said at trial that George had voluntarily offered to help him “clean’’ illicit profits and referred him to a mortgage broker who took 20 percent and split it with George.
In a legal career spanning three decades, George has represented a number of high-profile clients, including organized crime figures and Christopher M. McCowen, a garbage man convicted of the 2002 rape and murder of fashion writer Christa Worthington.