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February 13, 2016

Philadelphia lawyer indicted in Baltimore drug trafficking ring

Michael Farrell, 63, allegedly conducted financial transactions for a Baltimore drug organization with more than $14 million in marijuana sales

A prominent Philadelphia defense attorney has been indicted on charges that he allegedly laundered money for a drug trafficking organization in Maryland and tampered with an official investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office following an arraignment on Friday.

According to prosecutors, 63-year-old J. Michael Farrell, of Wenonah, N.J., carried out financial transactions for the drug organization that was exposed after the DEA agents executed a search warrant on a Baltimore home in 2009, WTOP reports.

Farrell is well known for representing Jason Smith, the man convicted of strangling a CHOP pediatrician and later setting her body on fire in Philadelphia in 2013. He was also the defense attorney for Laquanta Chapman, who was convicted of fatally shooting 16-year-old Aaron Turner in Coatesville and dismembering his body with a pair of chainsaws.

The indictment against Farrell, which came down last October and was unsealed Jan. 28, alleges that the attorney provided support for the drug organization that used the Baltimore home as its base of operations. Federal authorities claim they seized 80 pounds of marijuana, tally sheets reflecting more than $14 million in marijuana sales, $20,000 in cash, 31 cell phones, and documents outlining the purchase of a $450,000 plane.

Prosecutors say that in exchange for his assistance, Farrell received cash that he later deposited in commercial bank accounts. He faces 12 charges including money laundering, conspiracy, tampering with an official proceeding, and witness tampering.