Prosecutors say a high-roller lifestyle overwhelmed a Twin Cities lawyer who turned to laundering illicit drug money and is now headed to prison.
Robert D. Boedigheimer, 52, of Stillwater, was sentenced Monday in federal court in Minneapolis to five years in prison after being convicted by a jury last June of conspiring with his brother-in-law, a marijuana dealer based in southern Minnesota, to launder proceeds from drug sales through his law firm.
“Lawyers are officers of the court,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven L. Schleicher said in a statement. “Those who are sworn to uphold the law will be held accountable if they violate it.”
Boedigheimer, who earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Minnesota, had his own personal injury practice since 1995. The firm and Boedigheimer began to experience financial problems in 2006. He fell behind on several loans, bills and taxes, and he also had difficulty meeting payroll obligations for his firm.
In addition to the financial problems at the St. Paul firm, prosecutors said, the defendant spent lavishly on himself, frequently gambling and taking expensive trips. He also lived in a “high-end home” near a golf course in Stillwater, maintained a boat and held Minnesota Vikings season tickets, the U.S. attorney’s office noted.
In a court filing ahead of sentencing, Boedigheimer argued for incarceration of no more than one year in hopes that he could retain his law license.
The prosecution, in its presentencing argument urging a prison term of more than seven years, noted that Boedigheimer “willfully obstructed a federal investigation when he encouraged his brother-in-law to lie.” The prosecution also said the defendant lied to a federal agent, destroyed evidence and lied under oath during the trial.
As his financial troubles deepened and his trips to the casino continued unabated, Boedigheimer borrowed his mother’s life savings and received a substantial amount of money from an uncle who had saved after working decades as a teacher, the prosecution argued.
According to the case prosecutors presented at trial:
Boedigheimer’s brother-in-law, Brandon Lusk, was a distributor of high-end marijuana in and around Rochester, Minn. Boedigheimer approached Lusk for a loan. Lusk agreed to provide loans on the condition that Boedigheimer repay the loans, plus interest, in checks issued from the law firm.
Ultimately, Boedigheimer created a sham job for Lusk at the firm, which paid Lusk $48,000 per year. The defendant provided a box of business cards to Lusk listing him as an “investigator” for the firm.
Lusk’s salary was entirely paid for through drug proceeds that Lusk funneled to Boedigheimer, who then laundered the money through his law firm.
Between March 2010 and January 2011, nine payroll cash advances were provided to Boedigheimer by Lusk, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 each, and totaling roughly $55,000. In exchange, Lusk received payroll checks from the firm.
Lusk is serving a 2 1/2-year term for distribution of marijuana and money laundering.