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New Jersey Money Laundering Laws

For nearly three years, Northfield-based Pierre Chainey operated a shady mortgage brokerage company that profited by the sale and purchase of properties throughout New Jersey. His scheme, court records showed, obtained loans for unqualified borrowers with the help of fraudulent loan applications and other misleading documents. Chainey was arrested with the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and agents of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation unit and was federally charged with money laundering involving $2.7 million in property. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four and one-half years in prison and payment of restitution, followed by a three-year supervised release period. Chainey also pleaded guilty to the related offense of wire fraud.

While Chainey's case was prosecuted in federal court, New Jersey's money laundering statute is very similar. It's hard to know whether a New Jersey court would have granted such a plea deal, but he would have faced a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years had he been convicted of the crime under the state's jurisdiction. Regardless, penalties are quite severe for this type of crime, which is by definition an act of covering up another crime (wire fraud, in Chainey's case).

New Jersey Money Laundering Laws: An Overview

The basics of New Jersey's money laundering laws are listed below, including classifications and sentences upon conviction.


The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2C § 21-25, et seq.

Common Definition of Money Laundering

Any activity aimed at concealing the unlawful source of sums of money; generally by transferring illegally obtained assets into seemingly legitimate channels.

Conduct Prohibited by Statute

Under New Jersey criminal law, the following conduct is considered money laundering:

  • Being in possession of property known (or which a reasonable person would have known) to be derived from illegal activity;
  • Being involved in a transaction with such property knowing its purpose is to disguise the source of the ill-gotten property or to evade reporting requirements; or
  • Influencing a financial institution to either avoid filing a report required by law or to file a report with materially relevant omissions or falsifications.

Crime Classifications

Money laundering charges are classified by the value of the property involved in the offense:

  • $500,000 or more: 1st degree crime
  • $75,000 - $499,999: 2nd degree crime
  • Less than $75,000: 3rd degree crime
  • Obstructing a financial institution's legally required report: 3rd degree crime

Sentences and Penalties

  • 1st degree crime: 10 - 20 yrs. in prison
  • 2nd degree crime : 5 - 10 yrs. in prison
  • 3rd degree crime : 3 - 5 yrs. in prison

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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New Jersey Money Laundering Laws: Related Resources

Busted for Money Laundering? A Defense Attorney Can Help

If you are charged with money laundering, chances are it's just the tip of the iceberg and there may be other criminal investigations related to those charges. But things aren't always as they appear and you may have a good explanation. In any event, it's always in your best interests to seek the counsel of a skilled criminal defense attorney.

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