The Bar News

Illinois Supreme Court disbars 7, suspends 22

The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred 7 lawyers, suspended 22, censured three and reprimanded five in its latest disciplinary filing. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics rules.

DISBARRED

  • Robert A. Drew, Marion

Mr. Drew, who was licensed in 1977, was disbarred on consent. He was convicted of attempting to provide contraband, heroin, to an inmate at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.  He was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

  • Scott Anthony Margherio, Metropolis

Mr. Margherio, who was licensed in 2009, was disbarred on consent. He made material omissions and misrepresentations to the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar and he was held in direct criminal contempt for appearing in court intoxicated while representing a client.

  • Jonathan D. McKee, University City, Mo.

Mr. McKee was licensed in Illinois in 1986 and in Missouri in 1987. He was disbarred in Missouri for misappropriating funds, falsely stating to a client that he had not received a settlement check from an insurance company, and for practicing law after he had been administratively suspended for failing to pay bar enrollment fees. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

  • Christopher Anthony Millet, Westchester

Mr. Millet, who was licensed in 1994, was disbarred. He was convicted of conspiracy to knowingly distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, specifically 500 grams or more of mixtures containing cocaine, and with knowingly attempting to possess with intent to deliver a controlled substance. He masterminded a scheme whereby he partnered with a known drug dealer to steal cash and drugs from another individual he believed to be a drug dealer. He also misappropriated over $22,000 in client funds and neglected a client’s case.

  • Guy M. Petruzzelli, Darien

Mr. Petruzzelli, who was licensed in 2000, was disbarred. Over a five-month period, he lied to his clients about the status of a case and fabricated settlement documents, bank records, and a court order that he gave to his clients to support his misrepresentations.  

  • Mitchell Harlin Wexler, Highland Park

Mr. Wexler, who was licensed in 1991, was disbarred on consent. He misappropriated $132,382.13 in client funds from five different clients, failed to make reasonable efforts to supervise non-lawyer assistants in the winding down of his law firm’s operations, and used client funds in violation of a court order that prohibited such use.

  • Norman Paul Wexler, Weston, Fla.

Mr. Wexler, who was licensed in 1968, was disbarred on consent. He misappropriated $132,382.13 in client funds from five different clients, and used client funds in violation of a court order that prohibited such use.

SUSPENDED

Ross Alexander, Waukegan, who was licensed in 1998, was suspended for one year and until further order of Court. He was found guilty of one count of misdemeanor battery after he pushed his then seven-year-old daughter to the ground, causing her to break her wrist.He did not participate in his disciplinary hearing.

Alan J. Bernstein, Chicago, who was licensed in 1981, was suspended for 90 days. He neglected a dissolution of marriage matter. He was previously suspended in 2005 for neglect. The suspension is effective on December 13, 2011.

Gregg William Bittner, Peoria, who was licensed in 1986, was suspended for six months. After receiving $2,300 in funds on behalf of three different bankruptcy clients, he refused to deliver the funds to the clients and converted $570 of the money. The suspension is effective on December 13, 2011.  

Rod R. Blagojevich, Chicago, who was licensed in 1984, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. As a result of improper actions while serving as the elected Governor of the State of Illinois, two different federal juries returned guilty verdicts against him for conduct that involved moral turpitude and reflected adversely on his fitness to practice law.

Patrick Earl Catalano, Chula Vista, Calif., was licensed in both California and Illinois in 1974. He was suspended in California for one year, with all but thirty days of the suspension stayed by probation subject to conditions, for commingling personal funds with client funds. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for one year, with the suspension stayed after thirty days by probation subject to the same conditions that were imposed on him in California. The suspension is effective on December 8, 2011.  

Samir Zia Chowhan, Granger, Ind., who was licensed in 2001, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. He neglected two immigration matters and misrepresented the status of those matters to his clients. In addition, he attempted to obtain sexual favors from prospective employees of his law office and lied to the ARDC in order to impede an investigation of his conduct. He did not participate in his disciplinary hearing.

Bernard James Conway, Chicago, who was licensed in 1987, was suspended for 90 days. After issuing a check drawn on insufficient funds to his landlord, he was charged in the Circuit Court of Berrien County, Michigan, with having presented an NSF check in an amount over $500. He was convicted of the charge and sentenced to one year of probation with the condition that he make restitution and pay a fine. He complied with the terms of his sentence and his conviction was later expunged, but he failed to notify the ARDC of the conviction. The suspension is effective on December 13, 2011.  

Stephen C. Debboli, Chicago, who was licensed in 1976, was suspended for five months, with the suspension stayed after 60 days by a two-year period of probation with conditions. He neglected a federal civil rights case and did not respond to requests for information in two separate ARDC investigations. In addition, he continued to practice law after his name had been removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys for failing to complete his Minimum Continuing Legal Education Requirements. The suspension is effective on December 13, 2011.  

Robert Vincent Gildo, Harbert, Mich., who was licensed in 1969, was suspended for 60 days. He neglected a client’s racial discrimination suit when he did not respond to a motion for summary judgment and for sanction, resulting in the loss of the client’s case and a cost judgment being imposed against her. The suspension is effective on December 13, 2011.

Jeffrey Michael Johns, Overland Park, Kan., was licensed in Illinois in 1999 and in Kansas in 2004. He was suspended in Kansas for two years and until further order of the court for felony driving under the influence of alcohol. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for two years and until he is reinstated in Kansas. The suspension is effective on December 8, 2011.

Anthony Ray Johnson, Newton, Iowa, was licensed in Illinois in 1992 and in Iowa in 2007. He was suspended in Iowa for three years and until further order of the Court for neglecting client matters, failing to keep clients informed or respond to their requests for information, failing to make necessary court filings or appear at court hearings, improperly presenting an ex parte order to a court for signature, failing to provide an accounting of fees or to refund unearned attorney’s fees, and failing to cooperate with the disciplinary authority. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for three years and until he is reinstated in Iowa. The suspension is effective on December 8, 2011.

Robert Raymond Jung, Phoenix, Ariz., was licensed in Illinois in 1991 and in Arizona in 1992. He was suspended in Arizona for two years and placed on probation for an additional two years upon any reinstatement for failing to abide by client decisions, failing to adequately communicate with clients, neglecting client matters, not promptly returning client property, and failing to cooperate with the disciplinary authority. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for two years and until he is reinstated in Arizona. The suspension is effective on December 8, 2011.

Marlin E. Kirby, Oak Park, who was licensed in 1990, was suspended for six months and until he completes the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. He converted approximately $8,700 of a bankruptcy client’s personal injury settlement and entered into an improper agreement with the client that required the client to withdraw the grievance that she had filed against him with the ARDC. The suspension is effective on December 13, 2011.

Michael Scott McDonald, Lincolnwood, who was licensed in 1999, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. He improperly assisted a man named Carl Mattes in the unauthorized practice of law following Mattes’ suspension from the practice of law and subsequent disbarment. He continued to remain in Mattes’ employment and received introductions to potential clients from Mattes and also shared fees with Mattes.

Corey Edward Meyer, Chicago, who was licensed in 1985, was suspended for four months. He engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in Michigan, filed a frivolous court claim, neglected a matter, and made misrepresentations to his client about the status of the case. The suspension is effective on December 13, 2011.

Jason William Smiekel, Algonquin, who was licensed in 2006, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. He was indicted on a federal murder for hire charge.

Kimberly A. Theobald, Waukesha, Wis., was licensed in Illinois in 1991 and in Wisconsin in 1992. She was suspended in Wisconsin for 60 days for neglecting a client bankruptcy matter. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended her for sixty days. The suspension is effective on December 8, 2011.

Lisa Theresa Thompson, St. Louis, who was licensed in 2002, was suspended for nine months and until further order of the Court. She practiced law after her name had been removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys for not paying her annual registration fees.  She also made false statements to a judge about the status of her license and was not truthful during the course of the disciplinary investigation.

Jeff Torronez, Rock Island, who was licensed in 1997, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. While serving as the State’s Attorney of Rock Island County, he furnished alcohol to a minor and then allegedly lied to police authorities who were investigating the matter.

Ernest Eugene Wiley Jr.,Westchester, who was licensed in 1992, was suspended for two years and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after the first five months by probation if he makes certain restitution.  He converted $1,920 that he was to hold in escrow and he neglected and charged an unreasonable fee in a bankruptcy matter. The suspension is effective on December 13, 2011.

Timothy James Winfield, Chicago, who was licensed in 1992, was suspended for two years and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed in its entirety by a two-year period of conditional probation. He was convicted on two counts of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol causing great bodily harm, both Class 4 felonies. He was previouslyconvicted of misdemeanor reckless driving charges, driving on a suspended license and attempted obstruction of justice.

James Bertin Zaczek, Chicago, who was licensed in 1993, was suspended for six months, with the suspension stayed in its entirety, pending completion of a one-year period of probation with conditions. He mismanaged approximately $8,400 that he was required to have held in escrow.

CENSURED

Leonard Mason, Northbrook, who was licensed in Illinois in 1968, was censured. He drafted testamentary documents for an elderly client in which he gave himself specific bequests. 

Andrew Warren Peters, Lincoln, who was admitted in 1954, was censured. He prepared a testamentary instrument for a client giving Mr. Peters’ wife a substantial gift. The wife formally renounced the bequest.

David W. Weissmiller, Mount Carroll, who was licensed in 1987, was censured. He continued to practice law after his name had been removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys for failing to comply with Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirements.

REPRIMANDED

Keith K. Cheung, St. Louis, Mo., was licensed in Missouri in 1990 and in Illinois in 1991. He was reprimanded in Missouri for causing a mistrial in a criminal case when he, as a spectator at the trial, forwarded a note to the presiding judge urging the judge to convict the defendant. In an in-chambers conversation between the judge, the attorneys of record, and Mr. Cheung immediately thereafter, he made false statements to defense counsel and implied that he was not certain as to the case that was being triedThe Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded him.

Thomas Paul Demuth, Milwaukee, Wis., was licensed in both Illinois and Wisconsin in 1989. He was publicly reprimanded in Wisconsin for practicing law following his suspension in that state for not paying his annual dues and later when his Wisconsin license was inactive. He also permitted his law firm to make misleading statements on its website about his authority to practice law in other states, including Illinois. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded him.

Lennox Emanuel, West Bloomfield, Mich., Mr. Emanuel was licensed in Illinois in 1996 and in Michigan in 1999. He was reprimanded in Michigan and was ordered to comply with certain conditions. He maintained his own personal funds in his client trust account and wrote checks from that account for business and personal purposes. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded him.

Martin Orval Kirk, St. Joseph, Mich., was licensed in Michigan in 1990 and in Illinois in 1991. He was reprimanded in Michigan and placed on conditions after he was convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery for threatening to hurt his girlfriend and her son. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded him.

Douglas Ivan Milan, Stamford, Conn., was licensed in Illinois in 1972 and in Connecticut in 1976. He was reprimanded in Connecticut for falsely stating in an acknowledgement in a real estate closing that he had taken the acknowledgment in Connecticut when he had actually taken it in Florida. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded him.

 

Posted on November 22, 2011 by Chris Bonjean
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Member Comments (1)

One of these names looks very familiar.

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