Former KC lawyer gets five-year prison sentence for money laundering

A Kansas federal judge on Monday sentenced a former local criminal defense lawyer to five years in prison for laundering what he thought was illegal drug money.

Ronald E. Partee, 66, pleaded guilty in January to charges of conspiracy and money laundering that arose from an undercover sting operation.

Partee, who was well known in courthouses throughout the Kansas City area, said little in the hearing before U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia. His attorney, Gary W. Hart, said Partee was deeply remorseful for the damage he had done to his life, his reputation and his career.

“Ron Partee cannot change the facts that bring him here today, but he has begun a journey of redemption for the errors in judgment he made,” Hart said.

In his guilty plea, Partee admitted he and the operators of a Northland credit counseling service agreed to help hide the source of money that they thought came from the sales of illegal drugs.

Partee discussed the storage of marijuana and advised a person he didn’t realize was an undercover agent on the risk of using drug couriers, court records said.

The workers at the credit counseling agency are charged with conspiracy, money laundering and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Partee represented defendants in high-profile cases throughout his career. In the early 1980s, he defended accused mobster Charles Moretina in a federal organized crime case. In the late 1990s, Partee represented political consultant Cathryn M. Simmons in the public corruption trials of former Missouri House speaker Bob Griffin. In 2007, he defended Kansas City Councilwoman Saundra McFadden-Weaver from mortgage fraud charges.

Murguia agreed to recommend that Partee serve his sentence at a federal prison camp in South Dakota to minimize any contact with former clients.