Providence lawyer Kenneth O'Donnell must forfeit $42,000 that came from convicted money launderer Stephen A. Saccoccia. A federal judge this week ordered two lawyers to give the government $297,000 in fees that they received from Stephen A. Saccoccia, a Cranston man convicted of laundering $136 million for Colombian drug dealers. Providence lawyer Kenneth O'Donnell must forfeit $42,000 and San Francisco lawyer Jack Hill must forfeit $254,985 that came from Saccoccia, a former precious-metals dealer who in 1993 was sentenced to 660 years in federal prison.
In his ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge Ernest C. Torres said the lawyers received those fees after Saccoccia had been convicted "and it was clear that virtually all of his assets were proceeds of his money-laundering activities." Torres also cited "the suspicious circumstances" under which the fees were paid. "Some payments were in the form of wire transfers from Switzerland, where Saccoccia had secreted some of his assets, and others consisted of large amounts of cash delivered by anonymous individuals," he stated. Federal prosecutors have said Saccoccia paid another of his lawyers with gold bars. Federal prosecutors argued that payment of the fees represented contempt of a court order that froze $140 million of Saccoccia's assets. Torres concluded that O'Donnell and Hill had notice of the court order, that the order was clear, and that the lawyers had a chance to comply with it. So, the judge wrote, "there can be no question that acceptance of these fees was a violation of the order."