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Illinois Supreme Court disbars 12, suspends 43, censures 10

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced the filing of disciplinary orders involving a number of licensed lawyers. The Court has disbarred 12 lawyers, suspended 43, censured 10, remprimanded two and transferred three others to inactive disability status. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

DISBARRED

  • Catherine M. Brame, Bloomington

Ms. Brame was licensed in California in 1987 and in Illinois in 1994. She was disbarred in California for misappropriating over $80,000 in client funds. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred her.

  • Richard William Fischer, St. Louis

Mr. Fischer was licensed in Missouri in 1991 and in Illinois in 1992. He was disbarred in Missouri for accepting a $5,000 retainer and then failing to perform any legal services or return the retainer to the client. He also did not pay his bar enrollment fee, failed to comply with continuing legal education requirements, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law while he was suspended, failed to file state tax returns, and did not cooperate with the Missouri lawyer disciplinary authorities. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

  • Donna M. Guerin, Elmhurst

Ms. Guerin, who was licensed in Illinois in 1984, was disbarred on consent. She was convicted in a federal court in New York of tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the United States. She and others acted to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by designing, marketing, implementing and defending fraudulent tax shelters using means and methods intended to deceive the IRS about the validity of those shelters, and about the circumstances under which the tax shelters had been marketed and implemented. She is scheduled to be sentenced on October 14, 2011.

  • Peter Thomas Howe, Troy, Mich.

Mr. Howe, who was licensed in Illinois in 1992, was disbarred on consent. He misappropriated more than $65,000 from a personal injury client.

  • Jussi Kustaa Kivisto, Boca Raton, Fla.

Mr. Kivisto was licensed in Illinois in 1981 and in Florida in 1983. He was disbarred in Florida for collecting excessive attorney’s fees from a decedent’s estate. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

  • James Cyril Kotz, Burbank

Mr. Kotz, who was licensed in 1992, was disbarred on consent. He was convicted in federal court of creating a fictitious scheme to conceal the receipt of taxable income garnered through the sale of real estate. He was sentenced to a three-year term of probation, with the first ninety days to be spent in home confinement with electronic monitoring.

  • Ellen Frances Long, Denver, Colo.

Ms. Lang, who was licensed in 1990, was disbarred. She induced her mother to purchase a home in Evanston by falsely claiming that she, Ms. Lang, had been diagnosed with cancer and that she needed to live near to where she was receiving cancer treatments. She caused the home’s sellers to execute a warranty deed conveying title of the property to Ms. Lang, rather than her mother, and then concealed from her mother the fact that she held title to the property. She then obtained a mortgage on the property and used the $150,000 loan proceeds for her own benefit. She failed to cooperate with the ARDC investigation into her misconduct.

  • Steven Robert LIss, La Jolla, Calif.

Mr. Liss was licensed in Illinois in 1986 and in California in 1987. He was disbarred in California for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, charging unconscionable and illegal fees, failing to return unearned fees, and failing to put client funds into a client trust account. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

  • Edward James  Mahon, Wheaton

Mr. Mahon, who was licensed in 1978, was disbarred. He misappropriated $5,000 in client settlement funds, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by continuing to represent clients after he had been removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys for failing to register, did not cooperate with the ARDC investigation into his misconduct, and failed to appear at his disciplinary hearing.

  • Timothy O'Reilly O'Sullivan, St. Louis, Mo.

Mr. O’Sullivan was licensed in Missouri in 1981 and in Illinois in 1982. He was disbarred in Missouri for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law while he was suspended, failing to comply with continuing legal education requirements, not filing state tax returns, and not cooperating with the disciplinary authority. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

  • David Michael Shults, Northbrook

Mr. Shults, who was licensed in 2003, was disbarred. He neglected five different client matters and charged an unreasonable fee. He failed to appear at his disciplinary hearing.

  • Harvey Dwayne Wright, South Holland

Mr. Wright, who was licensed in Illinois in 1993, was disbarred on consent. He misappropriated funds from three clients and entered into a prohibited business transaction with a client when he borrowed money from that client.

SUSPENDED

  • Charles Wendell Beacham, Evansville, Ind.

Mr. Beacham, who was licensed in Illinois in 1969 and in Indiana in 2003, was suspended in Indiana for at least 180 days, without automatic reinstatement, for not properly communicating with a client and for charging the client a nonrefundable retainer and an unreasonable attorney’s fee. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for six months and until he is reinstated in Indiana.

  • Shannan Hayes Bedgood, Westchester

Ms. Bedgood, who was licensed in 1995, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed in its entirety by a one-year period of probation with conditions. During a period when she was removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys for failing to register, she engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in two separate matters. Also, she pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor offense of driving under the influence of alcohol.

  • Avalon E'Lan Betts-Gaston, Matteson

Ms. Betts-Gaston, who was licensed in 2000, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of Court. Earlier, the Hearing Board recommended her disbarment for engaging in six separate instances of mortgage fraud/equity stripping through lease-buyback agreements.  She caused significant harm to her clients, all of whom were vulnerable and experiencing serious financial problems, because each one of them lost a significant amount of money, and all but one, lost their homes.

  • Mark Edward Brabec, Gilberts

Mr. Brabec, who was licensed in 1996, was suspended for two years and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after sixty days by a two-year period of probation with conditions. He was found guilty of battery, disorderly conduct, and reckless driving.

  • Steven A. Brenner, Homewood

Mr. Brenner, who was licensed in 1991, was suspended for one year and until he makes certain restitution to former clients. He obtained an $18,000 bond refund by submitting a forged petition following his client’s death, neglected two separate matters, did not refund unearned fees, and made false statements to the ARDC to obstruct an inquiry.

  • Kent Richard Brody, Chicago

Mr. Brody, who was licensed in 1971, was suspended for 30 days. He engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by representing clients in at least eight different legal matters while his name was removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys for failing to register and not completing his Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirements.

  • Peter David Caminiti, Barrington

Mr. Caminiti, who was licensed in 1985, was suspended for 90 days. He engaged in a conflict of interest when he drafted trust documents for a client providing for a $25,000 bequest to each of his two children. He also failed to timely initiate probate proceedings after the client’s death and, after opening the estate, he continued to dissipate estate funds to pay the rent on property held by the testator at the time of her death.

  • Mark L. Chael, Munster, Ind.

Mr. Chael, who was licensed in 2002, was suspended for six months. While employed at a Chicago law firm concentrating in patent and intellectual property matters, he recorded more than 260 hours of time he falsely claimed to have spent on behalf of one of the firm's clients during a two-month period. His conduct was discovered before the affected client paid any of the fees associated with the false billings.

  • Johnnie Mae Chen, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Ms. Chen, who was licensed in 1986, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court. She neglected a will contest matter, failed to refund an unearned fee, and did not appear at the disciplinary hearing.

  • Becky Lynn Dahlgren, Lisle

Ms. Dahlgren, who was licensed in 1976, was suspended for nine months and until she completes courses in professionalism and law office management. She made false statements regarding assets in her personal bankruptcy proceeding. Further, in four separate real estate matters, she misappropriated a total of approximately $12,500 in escrow funds belonging to clients and third persons.

  • John N. Dore, Chicago

Mr. Dore, who was licensed in 1974, was suspended for five months and ordered to complete the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. He asserted frivolous positions in order to harass others in connection with three different client matters and made false statements about the integrity of a judge.

  • Herb N. Elesh, Wheeling

Mr. Elesh, who was licensed in 1996, was suspended for six months. He sent threatening and harassing demand letters directly to a drug treatment center where his client had been a patient, despite receiving repeated notifications from the center’s attorney that it was represented in the matter.

  • Ronald Steven Gertzman, Chicago

Mr. Gertzman, who was licensed in Illinois in 1972, was suspended for two years and until further order of the Court.  He neglected a client’s commercial foreclosure defense matter, failed to keep the client informed about the status of the matter, charged an unreasonable fee of $10,000 in the case, and failed to promptly refund the unearned portion of the fee when the client discharged him.

  • Steven Donald Grimm, Collinsville

Mr. Grimm, who was licensed in 1980, was suspended for two years and until he makes certain restitution. He engaged in a conflict of interest when he represented a client in a loan transaction while, at the same time, having a professional and business relationship with the other party to the loan transaction.

  • Lance Haddix, Chicago

Mr. Haddix was licensed in Illinois in 1967 and in California in 1989. In 2006, the State Bar Court of California publicly reproved him, subject to terms and conditions, for failing to withdraw properly from representing clients in a civil fraud action. Because he did not comply with the reproval terms, the Supreme Court of California suspended him for one year and stayed the suspension subject to his being placed on probation for five years, on the condition that he actually be suspended for the first thirty days of probation and that he comply with the other conditions of probation. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for one year, staying the suspension after thirty days by five years of probation subject to the conditions imposed by the Supreme Court of California.

  • Jeffrey Bryan Hammerlund, Algonquin

Mr. Hammerlund, who was licensed in 1981, was suspended for 30 days, required to refund $500 to a client, and ordered to complete the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. He neglected a collection matter, failed to communicate with his client, and did not return the unearned fee to the client.

  • Thomas Francis Howard, Jr., Lombard

Mr. Howard, who was licensed in 1974, was suspended for 30 days. He neglected a client’s personal injury claim, resulting in sanctions being entered against the client, and then made misrepresentations to the client regarding the status of the case.

  • Constantine Peter Kallas, Glen Ellyn

Mr. Kallas, who was licensed in 1995, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. While serving as an Assistant Chief Counsel at the Office of Principal Legal Advisor, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, he entered into a scheme with his wife to charge aliens between $10,000 and $20,000 in order to submit false documentation to federal immigration authorities to obtain the immigration status that the aliens desired. The couple collected at least $950,000 through this scheme. He was found guilty in federal court in California of money laundering and obstruction of justice and he was sentenced to a 212-month prison term.

  • Brian Edward Leach, Algonquin

Mr. Leach, who was licensed in 1995, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court. He neglected a client’s criminal appeal, resulting in the appeal’s dismissal, and then made false statements to his client regarding the status of the appeal. He failed to appear at his disciplinary hearing.

  • Jeffrey Michael McCarthy, Lockport

Mr. McCarthy, who was licensed in 1992, was suspended for six months and until he makes certain restitution. He neglected two domestic relations matters, failed to communicate with clients, did not refund unearned fees and failed to cooperate with the ARDC.

  • Marian Frances McElroy, North Chicago

Ms. McElroy, who was licensed in 1981, was suspended for 18 months, with the suspension stayed after four months by a one-year period of probation with conditions. She converted approximately $8,000 in settlement funds from a client’s civil litigation claim.

  • Mark Milos, Kenosha, Wis.

Mr. Milos, who was licensed in 2007, was suspended for 90 days and ordered to complete the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. He used his Wisconsin real estate broker’s license to enter a condominium owned by a law client’s opponent in litigation in order to obtain evidence that he later used in the litigation. He also made false statements to a police officer investigating the circumstances surrounding his entry into the property.

  • Kenneth Brian Moll, Chicago

Mr. Moll, who was licensed in 1989, was suspended for two years. While representing a client in federal multidistrict litigation, he violated a court order relating to confidential discovery materials when he permitted an unauthorized person to view documents that were subject to the order and also participated in the filing of a motion to intervene in the case without first obtaining the signature of the purported intervenor.

  • Mark Gerard Mulroe, Chicago

Mr. Mulroe, who was licensed in 1989, was suspended for 90 days. He converted approximately $113,000 that he should have been holding for a client in relation to a divorce case. The Court upheld a finding that he had no deceptive or dishonest intent to take the funds. The mandate of suspension is set to issue 35-days from the entry of the opinion.

  • Olufemi F. Nicol, Chicago

Mr. Nicol, who was licensed in 1994, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court. At a time when he was earning a $190,000 annual salary from a Chicago law firm, he avoided in bad faith the repayment of approximately $78,000 in education loans guaranteed by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. 

  • Thomas Joseph Noonan, St. Louis, Mo.

Mr. Noonan was licensed in Missouri in 1980 and in Illinois in 1982. He was suspended in Missouri for an indefinite period of time, with the suspension was stayed in its entirety by probation with conditions. He pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of attempt to possess a controlled substance. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline, suspended him for seven months, and stayed the suspension in its entirety because he had successfully completed his probation in Missouri.

  • John Brewster Ohle, III, Northfield

Mr. Ohle, who was licensed in 2003, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. He was convicted in a federal court in New York of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit wire fraud, and tax evasion. He was sentenced to a sixty month prison term. He was also ordered to make restitution of $5,553,680.74. He created false invoices to generate referral fees on transactions related to a tax shelter that he marketed, sold and implemented. He concealed the receipt of those fees by failing to report, on his individual income tax returns, the referral fees, as well as funds he had embezzled from a client for whom he had acted as a trustee. He also failed to report approximately $6 million in personal income.

  • Barry M. Orlyn, Los Angeles, Calif.

Mr. Orlyn was licensed in Illinois in 1960 and in California in 1965. California imposed a four year stayed suspension, which included a three-year term of probation and an actual period of suspension of two years and until he establishes entitlement to reinstatement. He misappropriated $9,000 in client funds, failing to deposit the money in a client trust account, and endorsed his client’s name on a check without the client’s knowledge or consent. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for four years, with the suspension stayed by three years of probation and until he is reinstated in California.

  • Tommy D. Payne, Chicago

Mr. Payne, who was licensed in 1993, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court. He neglected a civil matter, failed to return an unearned fee and failed to cooperate with the ARDC. He failed to appear for his disciplinary hearing.

  • Frank Edward Peters, Jr., Avon, Colo.

Mr. Peters, who was licensed in1972, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. He was convicted in federal court in New York of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and other offenses. He was sentenced to a 60-month prison term, a three-year term of supervised release, and he was ordered to pay $11,237,839.80 in restitution to a bank and $750,661.56 to the Small Business Administration. In addition, he was ordered to forfeit $23,154,259.00 to the United States.

  • Joseph Michael Pisula, Lake Zurich

Mr. Pisula, who was licensed in 1980, was suspended for nine months. While serving as the president of a title insurance company, he failed to segregate title premium funds for the benefit of the underwriter. He also failed to timely remit the funds to the underwriter and converted approximately $81,000 of the funds for his own business purposes.

  • Connie June Postelli, Crown Point, Ind.

Ms. Postelli, who was licensed in 1999, was suspended for 30 days. She requested reimbursement from her client of $2,400 in expenses she had not actually incurred. When her client requested supporting documentation regarding those expenses, she fabricated and sent to her client four invoices purporting to be from a third party.

  • D. Michael Rickgauer, Peoria

Mr. Rickgauer, who was licensed in 1987, was suspended for three months. He falsely reported to the Minimum Continuing Legal Education Board of the Supreme Court of Illinois that he had completed 20 hours of continuing legal education activity during the 2007 to 2009 reporting period. In fact, he had enrolled to take only 19.25 hours of CLE work and his secretary, at his direction, completed some of the online CLE classes that Mr. Rickgauer claimed to have completed.

  • Ryan M. Rosenthal, Northbrook

Mr. Rosenthal, who was licensed in 1999, was suspended for five months and ordered to complete the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. He settled a client's personal injury matter without the client's permission. He also signed his client's name to a release and settlement draft in a manner that imitated the client's actual signature. He then signed the release as a witness to his client's purported signature.

  • Ernest Thomas Rossiello, Chicago

Mr. Rossiello, who was licensed to practice in 1971, was suspended for nine months. He practiced law during a period when he was suspended for professional misconduct.

  • Andrew Joseph Rukavina, Mundelein

Mr. Rukavina, who was licensed in 1983, was suspended for six months. He mailed a false and misleading advertisement and failed to disclose to prospective real estate clients that he would be receiving additional fees for issuing title insurance and performing a title review.

  • Hector Francisco Scarano, Oak Brook

Mr. Scarano, who was licensed in 2003, was suspended for three months and until he makes certain restitution and was ordered to complete the ARDC Professionalism Seminar.He neglected five different legal matters, failed to refund an unearned fee, and used letterhead stationery that did not clearly show that a member of his firm was not licensed to practice in Illinois.

  • Richard Frank Schouten, Waukesha, Wis.

Mr. Schouten, who was licensed in 1988, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court. He failed to cooperate with a disciplinary investigation in Wisconsin where he is also licensed to practice. He failed to appear at his disciplinary hearing in Illinois.

  • William Sumner Scott, Chicago

Mr. Scott was licensed in Illinois in 1968 and in Florida in 1992. He was suspended in Florida for three years for misleading an investor into creating a currency exchange brokerage company in which the investor and a client of Mr. Scott’s were to be 50% shareholders. He then represented the client, the investor, the company, and third parties in various capacities against one another. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for three years.

  • Carl Maurice Walsh, Chicago

Mr. Walsh, who was licensed in 1965, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. He neglected a client’s personal injury matter, allowing the case to be dismissed for want of prosecution four times, and made misrepresentations to the client about the status of the matter.

  • Albert Max Wanninger, Chicago

Mr. Wanninger, who was licensed in 1970, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. He pled guilty in federal court to willfully filing a false tax return for calendar year 2006, was sentenced to a two-year term of probation, and was also ordered to serve 365 days in home detention with electronic monitoring.

  • Anderson J. Ward, Matteson

Mr. Ward, who was licensed in 1993, was suspended for three years and until further order of the Court. He alloweda criminal clientto use his client trust fund account to operate an investment scheme that resulted in the misappropriation of over $200,000 in investor funds. He also employed a disbarred attorney in his law practice.

  • Andrew Dean Werth, Evanston

Mr. Werth, who was licensed in 1987, was suspended for four months. He neglected legal matters involving four separate clients, misrepresented to each of those clients that he had negotiated a settlement or obtained a judgment on the client’s behalf, and delivered cashier’s checks to the clients that purported to represent the amounts of settlements or judgments obtained from the clients’ opponents in litigation. In actuality, he had purchased the checks using his own funds.

  • Kevin Bruce Witt, Milford

Mr. Witt, who was licensed in 1996, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court and was ordered to make certain restitution and comply with continuing legal education requirements. He practiced law after being removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys for failing to register and not complying with Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirements. He did not appear at his disciplinary hearing.

CENSURED

  • Michael Joseph Caminiti, Barrington

Mr. Caminiti, who was licensed in 1982, was censured for entering into a loan transaction with a client without advising the client of her right to seek the advice of independent counsel prior to entering into the transaction or disclosing that his own interests might conflict with the interests of the client.

  • David M. Fahrenkamp, Edwardsville

Mr. Fahrenkamp, who was licensed in 1978, was censured. He failed to file employer’s tax returns for his law practice and he did not remit employee withholdings to the IRS. 

  • Donald Dale Gardiner, Chicago

Mr. Gardiner, who was licensed in 2002, was censured for mailing two intimidating letters to his former supervisor's home.

  • James E. Leeny, Chicago

Mr. Leeny, who was licensed in 1994, was censured. He was convicted of misdemeanor battery, stemming from an attempt to flee from a Cook County Forest Preserve Police Officer. He was sentenced to a 24-month period of probation and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

  • Darren Michael Malek, Kalamazoo, Mich.

Mr. Malek, who was licensed in Illinois in 2007, was censured. He was convicted of leaving the scene of a traffic accident in Michigan.

  • Morris David Minuskin, Arlington Heights

Mr. Minuskin, who was licensed in 1979, was censured. He appeared in court and filed pleadings on behalf of several clients after he was removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys for failing to register and not complying with his Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirements.

  • Neil Alan Spector, Chicago

Mr. Spector, who was licensed to practice law in 1981, was censured. He practiced law after being removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys for failing to register and not complying with Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirements. He also cursed at an opposing party after a court appearance.

  • Amy Maldonado Tehauno, Houston, Texas

Ms. Tehauno, who was licensed in 1998, was censured. While representing a client in a petition for lawful permanent residency, she did not respond to a request for additional information from immigration authorities, which caused her client’s petition to be denied. In addition, she initially failed to cooperate with the ARDC.

  • Michael Lee Tinaglia, Rosemont

Mr. Tinaglia, who was licensed in Illinois in 1977, was censured and ordered to complete the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. He notarized the signature of his client’s wife on a power of attorney, despite the fact that he did not see her sign the document or take any steps to verify the authenticity of her purported signature.

  • Richard Alan Van Den Bussche, Crystal Lake

Mr. Van Den Bussche, who was licensed in 1980, was censured and ordered to complete the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. He represented both a woman who was seeking to be appointedguardian of a minor and the natural mother of that minor in a child custody case without completely disclosing how his representation of them could affect his representation of each.

REPRIMANDED

  • Lori Jo Kieffer, Rock Island

Ms. Kieffer, who was licensed in Illinois in 2001 and in Iowa in 2002, was reprimanded in Iowa for communicating with an opposing party without obtaining the permission of the attorney who was representing that party. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded her.

  • Jose Salvador Tellez, Laredo, Texas

Mr. Tellez was licensed in Texas in 1985 and in Illinois in 1988. The State Bar of Texas twice publicly reprimanded him for failing to communicate adequately with clients. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded him.

TRANSFERRED TO INACTIVE STATUS

  • Marilyn T. Kuhr, Chicago

Ms. Kuhr, who was licensed in 1975, was transferred to inactive disability status and until further order of the Court because she was found to be incapacitated from continuing to practice law.

  • Stephen Mayer Masters, Sr., Joliet

Mr. Masters, who was licensed in 1970, was transferred to inactive disability status and until further order of the Court because he was found to be incapacitated from continuing to practice law.

  • Herbert F. Stride, Chicago

Mr. Stride, who was licensed in 1957, was transferred to inactive disability status and until further order of the Court because he was found to be incapacitated from continuing to practice law.

Posted on September 26, 2011 by Chris Bonjean
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