Where The Supreme Court And "office Space" Meet

by Josh Patashnik | February 26, 2008

Remember the scene in the movie where Peter, Samir, and Michael Bolton decide to launder money but realize they don't know what the term means and resort to looking it up in the dictionary? Well, the justices are doing the same thing in an attempt to decide whether the feds are applying the term too loosely:

The government ... interprets the law a good deal more broadly [than the colloquial understanding], applying it in this case to the activity of a courier who hid $83,000 in cash under the floorboard of his car as he headed for the Texas border with Mexico.

According to the government, that act of concealment, as part of a plan to take the money out of the country, was exactly what Congress had in mind when it passed the act in 1986. The federal appeals court in New Orleans agreed, upholding the money-laundering conviction of a Mexican man, Humberto F. R. Cuellar, who was stopped on a Texas highway for driving substantially under the speed limit. The police officers began searching the car after they smelled marijuana on the roll of bills that Mr. Cuellar took out of his pocket.

And that, as Michael Bolton says, is not the kind of crime that lands you in a white-collar resort prison.

--Josh Patashnik 

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/where-the-supreme-court-and-quotoffice-spacequot-meet