Valley attorney gets 2.5 years for drug money laundering

A Valley-based attorney has been sentenced  to more than two years in federal prison for laundering drug money.

Ralph Crozier, 63, a lawyer with an office in Seymour, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and one count of attempt to launder monetary instruments after a trial in September 2014.

On Feb. 12, Crozier was sentenced in New Haven federal court to 30 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. He also was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine.

Now out on a $200,000 bond, Crozier was ordered to report to prison on April 17.

‘Held to a higher standard’

“Attorney Crozier readily agreed to launder drug money for a narcotics dealer,” said Deirdre M. Daly, U.S. attorney for Connecticut. “Money laundering is always a serious offense, but it is all the more serious when committed by an officer of the court.

“As attorneys are appropriately held to a higher standard, Crozier’s crimes are particularly troubling,” Daly said. “This sentence reflects the seriousness of his offense and proper punishment for a lawyer who used his law license for criminal purposes.”

Convicted client provided tip

According to the evidence at Crozier’s trial, law enforcement began investigating him after receiving information from a convicted narcotics trafficker who was in federal custody.

The narcotics trafficker stated that he was a former client of Crozier and that Crozier had convinced him to invest $30,000 in cash into Crozier’s law partner’s solar energy company, prosecutors said.

Crozier knew that the cash was derived from his client’s narcotics trafficking activities, according to federal officials.

Client’s mom wore a wire

In 2013, the narcotics trafficker’s mother agreed to wear a recording device while meeting with Crozier to discuss her son’s prior investment.

On April 11, 2013, the woman brought $11,000 in federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) funds to a meeting with Crozier, representing that her son had hidden the cash and wanted her to bring it to Crozier, prosecutors said. The conversation during the meeting made it clear that the money had been illegally derived from drug dealing, according to prosecutors.

Federal officials said Crozier accepted the cash and told the woman that he was going to make out the receipt in her son’s name, stating, “I don’t want to put your name on anything because I don’t want you involved with hiding things from the feds.”

Shortly after the woman left his office, Crozier was arrested.

DEA and FBI involved

The case was investigated by the DEA’s Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Asst. U.S. Attorneys Rahul Kale and Robert Spector of the U.S. Attorney's Office for Connecticut, and Asst. U.S. Attorney Charles Rombeau of the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Hampshire.

Crozier’s sentence was handed down by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven federal court, where the trial had taken place last fall.