The key witness in the criminal case against well-known defense attorney Bob George is now in line for a big payday, which is raising more questions about the government's use of criminal informants.
A federal jury convicted George in U.S. District Court in South Boston Friday of seven counts connected to a money laundering conspiracy.
Ronald Dardinski is George's former client, a career criminal and paid government informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The jury convicted George of helping Dardinski launder $200,000 in drug money and getting a $20,000 cut in return.
During the investigation, Dardinski secretly recorded his conversations with George and the drug money Dardinski laundered was actually the government's money
For his work on the case, the government has already paid Dardinski more than $20,000 and Dardinski will now make 10% of any money George is forced forfeit as part of his sentencing.
Loyola Law School professor Alexandra Natapoff has studied the use of informants and says that type of deal gives informants a reason to say and do anything.
"Informants under forfeiture law can make up to 25% of the cut of assets that are seized in a criminal investigation. This is a huge incentive for criminal offenders to go after targets and to make a living essentially being a criminal informant," said Natapoff. "And so what we see is the erosion of checks and balances. Informants can become extremely unreliable under these circumstances and again it's an incentive for informants to go after people in order to profit themselves sometimes handsomely."
In closing arguments Friday, prosecutor Laura Kaplan told jurors the government uses people like Dardinski as informants because they can infiltrate criminal conspiracies.
She also told jurors that the issue of the government's use of informants was not for their consideration.
After about four hours of deliberations, the jury convicted George of all the charges.
George's attorneys say they will appeal their client's conviction.
George remains free until his sentencing in September. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the money laundering charges.
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