lawyer prosecuted for concealment of drug trafficking proceeds acquitted on appeal

A bag full of tickets

The case started in March 2017…

A bag full of tickets

The case began in March 2017, when the Bordeaux police took Boris Ravoteur and four other people, including his girlfriend Julie, into custody. All were suspected of drug trafficking. The lawyer had replaced his colleague Me Éric Grosselle, of whom she was the part-time collaborator to assist Boris Ravoteur. At the request of her client, still withheld, she spoke the next day with Sacha, the trafficker’s sister, at her office. The lawyer has always maintained that she simply asked to provide documents relating to her brother’s guarantees of representation and to prepare a bag of business, the most likely outcome being detention on remand.

Leaving this meeting, Sacha goes to Julie’s home where she picks up a bag containing 100,000 euros and brings it back to Paris. A few weeks later, Julie will be arrested by customs on her return from Paris, with the famous bag stuffed with cash in her trunk. About 5,000 euros had been “lost” in Sacha’s Paris apartment.

“When you question a lawyer, you can’t afford the mistakes that were made during the investigation”

For the prosecution, this chronology could only seal a complicity of the lawyer. What, according to the prosecution, give credit to the very fluctuating statements of Boris and his sister during the investigation which ended up designating the lawyer as the bearer of the indications which allowed Sacha to recover Boris’ bag.

“When you implicate a lawyer, you cannot afford the errors that were made during the investigation”, had conceded the general counsel Marianne Poinot referring in particular to the ban on exercising the activity of criminal lawyer (ordered upon request from the public prosecutor’s office) ultimately deemed illegal by the investigating chamber. However, nothing in the file seemed to shake the conviction of the general prosecutor’s office, which had requested a one-year suspended prison sentence and a one- to two-year ban on practicing.

Seasoned Offenders

In its decision, the Court of Appeal, however, almost entirely agreed with the arguments of the three unwavering lawyers of Marlène Durand, Ms.are Charles Dufranc, Édouard Martial and Benoît Ducos-Ader.

The court notes that the questioning of Marlène Durand “is based exclusively on the statements of Boris Ravoteur, a particularly experienced offender, and Sacha Ravoteur, also an offender, both convicted”. Statements “constantly contradictory and undermined by two disturbing elements of the file”, consider the magistrates.

On the one hand, a mysterious call had been made from the police station to Sacha’s phone the evening of police custody. “A call on which no investigation has been carried out”, notes the court. What raise a doubt that information relating to the famous bag could have been transmitted during this call? “A simple hearing of the author of this call would have been enough to remove any ambiguity”, stings the court. On the other hand, “the absence of a search at Julie’s home, for which no explanation has been provided”.

“It does not result that Me Marlène Durand was an accomplice in the offense of concealment of the proceeds of drug trafficking led by Boris Ravoteur”

Another element which, for the court, does not tally with the thesis of a pact between the lawyer and the offenders: on leaving the lawyer’s office, Sacha (who did not know Bordeaux) went to Julie’s home by taxi. But this one was close by. “It would have been paradoxical on the part of Mr.e Durand to give Julie’s precise address to Sacha without giving him the additional indication that she was a few tens of meters from his office, ”underlines the Court.

From all of these elements, “it does not follow that Me Marlène Durand was an accomplice in the offense of concealment of the proceeds of drug trafficking led by Boris Ravoteur, ”concludes the court.

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