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Texas: can a check be used to launder money

The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports: No one disputes that it's been illegal for years to launder money in Texas. But could it be done with a check?

The answer to that question could determine whether former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay faces trial on political-corruption charges or sees the indictments thrown out without spending another day in court.

At issue is a $190,000 check dated Sept. 13, 2002, and sent to an arm of the Republican National Committee in Washington. It was drawn on the account of the political-action committee Texans for a Republican Majority, which DeLay helped found and which is at the center of the conspiracy and money-laundering charges against him.

Prosecutors say the check contained ill-gotten gains -- corporate money banned from direct use in state elections. They say DeLay and two associates schemed to launder the money through the Republican National State Elections Committee, which then sent back washed "hard" money that could legally be spent for Texas candidates for the U.S. House. ...

Houston lawyer Dick DeGuerin, heading DeLay's legal team, said records show no money-laundering prosecution involving only checks before the 1993 Money Laundering Act was amended this year.

Before the law was amended, the money at issue had to be cash or its untraceable equivalent, DeGuerin said. -- Star-Telegram | 11/26/2005 | Check ruling holds key to DeLay's fate

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