US drops charges against Fla. lawyer in drug case

AP News
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Posted: Nov 25, 2009 1:44 PM

The Justice Department is dropping all charges against a prominent Florida lawyer in a drug money-laundering case.

Prosecutors asked Wednesday to dismiss the indictment against attorney Ben Kuehne. The case drew nationwide attention because defense lawyers contended it threatened an accused person's right to an attorney.

Kuehne was accused of falsely verifying that Colombian drug kingpin Fabio Ochoa had enough money untainted by cocaine profits to pay legal fees. An appeals court ruled in October that Kuehne was protected from criminal prosecution by an exemption for attorneys in federal money-laundering laws.

Kuehne says the Justice Department's decision is an important affirmation of a defendant's right to counsel.