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SCOTUS to hear East Chicago case in October

January 1, 2007
The court docket for the nation's highest court is published, and the Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments in an East Chicago case during the first week it returns in October.

Justices will consider U.S. v. Efrain Santos as its sixth case of the term on Oct. 3, according to the session calendar. It will be the first Indiana case heard by the high court since the Hammond v. Indiana arguments in March 2006. The court agreed in April to hear this case that could clarify the definition of money laundering.

Federal Circuit courts, including the 7th Circuit, do not agree on an exact definition and have disagreed about whether it's considered money laundering to pay for the operation of a criminal enterprise with the profits of that illegal business. The nation's high court will determine whether the ban on the use of "proceeds" of a crime to promote or conceal it - that is, "laundering" the proceeds - applies to the total amount of money or only the profits after expenses.

This case involves the federal prosecution of an old tavern lottery raid where Santos - known as "Puerto Rican Frankie" - was arrested for running the illegal operation throughout the region from the 1970s to 1994. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison in 1998, but he was later released after the 7th Circuit heard two other cases in 2000 and 2002 and issued rulings that changed the interpretation of money laundering.

Following those decisions, U.S. District Judge James Moody in Hammond ruled that Santos' actions were no longer considered money laundering because of an interpretation of "net proceeds" and "gross proceeds" in federal laws.
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