The Bar News

Illinois Supreme Court disbars 11, suspends 36 in latest disciplinary filing

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on September 21, 2015, during the September Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law. 

DISBARRED

  • Charisse Angela Bruno, Buffalo Grove

Ms. Bruno, who was licensed in 1983, was disbarred. After she was suspended from the practice of law for professional misconduct, she continued to represent a client in a divorce matter and then failed to cooperate with the ARDC investigation into her post-suspension activities.

  • Marguerite Elise Dixon-Roper, Chicago

Ms. Dixon-Roper, who was licensed in 1992, was disbarred on consent. As part of a scheme with others, she purchased and refinanced several real properties as a nominee buyer. In the course of purchasing those properties, she knowingly submitted loan applications containing materially false information regarding her qualifications for the loans. She later pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of mail fraud. 

  • Theodore Levy Freedman, Pine Planes, N.Y.

Mr. Freedman, who was licensed in Illinois is 1976 and in New York in 1992, was disbarred in New York following a felony conviction of four counts of subscribing to false United States income tax returns. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him. 

  • Keith Joseph Hays, Indianapolis, Ind. 

Mr. Hays, who was licensed in 2009, was disbarred on consent. In the course of responding to an opponent’s motion for discovery sanctions, he falsely represented to a court and opposing counsel that his mother had died in a car accident. In a separate matter, he falsely represented to a court that he was suffering from medical issues that precluded him from attending a court hearing. He also made false statements to his client and third parties regarding the status of certain settlement negotiations. In addition, he did not timely respond to discovery and failed to provide information requested by Indiana disciplinary authorities. He resigned from the practice of law in Indiana based on the same conduct. 

  • Roxanne Bryant Jackson, Matteson

Ms. Jackson, who was licensed to practice law in 2001, was disbarred on consent. She pleaded guilty in federal court to engaging in a scheme to commit bribery/theft from programs receiving federal funds and to filing a false tax return. She paid kickbacks totaling more than $433,000 to an employee of the Illinois Department of Public Health in exchange for federal grants and contracts. 

  • Judd Barton James, Hollywood, Fla. 

Mr. James, who was licensed in 1981, was disbarred. In 2012, he was suspended from the practice of law in Illinois and before the federal immigration boards and courts. He engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by continuing to represent immigration clients after that suspension. In addition, he counseled immigration clients to make false statements to immigration authorities. 

  • Constantine Peter Kallas, Glen Ellyn

Mr. Kallas, who was licensed in 1995, was disbarred on consent. 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. He was suspended on an interim basis on July 27, 2011. 

  • Michael Raymond Lippner, Lemont

Mr. Lippner, who was licensed in 1976, was disbarred on consent. The ARDC was investigating his receipt and misuse of approximately $900,000 from a trust for which he was acting as an attorney. 

  • John H. Peiss, Naperville

Mr. Peiss, who was licensed in 1992, was disbarred. He represented two clients while he was suspended from the practice of law for misusing client money. He also misappropriated $3,739.50 in client funds. In addition, he failed to cooperate and participate fully in the disciplinary proceedings. 

  • Daniel Rozenstrauch, Chicago

Mr. Rozenstrauch, who was licensed in 1981, was disbarred. Without authorization, he used more than $295,022 belonging to various clients. 

  • Robert M. Stephenson, Chicago

Mr. Stephenson, who was licensed in 2002, was disbarred. He misappropriated $339,300.97 that he was to hold in trust as a fiduciary for his two minor children. He also falsely told an attorney who had been retained to represent the children that the funds had been spent to purchase a house for the children’s benefit. He failed to cooperate with the ARDC investigation and did not appear at the disciplinary hearing. 

SUSPENDED

  • Jeffrey Thomas Abbott, Bloomington

Mr. Abbott, who was licensed in 1988, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after five months by a two-year period of conditional probation. He filed bankruptcy pleadings for a client in which he failed to disclose the existence of a cash asset belonging to the client and did not provide information concerning the client’s earlier preferential payments to two creditors, resulting in orders for sanctions against both him and the client. In addition, he pled guilty to DUI, battery, and disorderly conduct charges, all of which arose from instances in which he abused alcohol. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Joshua Mark Bradley, Marion

Mr. Bradley, who was licensed in 1999, was suspended for two years and until further order of the Court. He failed to diligently represent seven different clients, made misrepresentations to five of those clients, and provided improper financial assistance to two clients in connection with litigation he was handling.

  • Roger Aaron Clay, III, Chicago

Mr. Clay, who was licensed in 2007, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court. He neglected four different client matters and then made a material misrepresentation to the ARDC in order to impede an investigation into his handling of one of those client matters. 

  • Steven Mark Cloh, Chicago

Mr. Cloh, who was licensed in 1985, was suspended one year, with the suspension stayed after three months in favor of an eighteen-month period of conditional probation. He failed to diligently handle four different client matters by missing court dates and failing to file required pleadings in court. He also made misrepresentations to three of the clients about the status of their matters. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Jeannette M. Conrad, Chicago (NOT LICENSED IN ILLINOIS) 

Ms. Conrad was licensed to practice law in Kentucky 2003 and in Indiana in 2004, but was never admitted to practice law in Illinois. She was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court in Illinois. Ms. Conrad engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in Illinois when she handled matters before the Illinois Racing Board and the United States Trotting Association. She did not participate in the disciplinary proceeding. 

  • Mark W. Costa, Murphysboro

Mr. Costa, who was licensed in 1994, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court for failing to diligently represent two clients, converting costs from those clients, and making misrepresentations to one of those clients. 

  • Christopher K. Davies, Boca Raton, Fla. 

Mr. Davies, who was licensed in 1998, was suspended for two years and until further order of the Court. He was arrested in Florida and charged with felony possession of a controlled substance after a private investigator videotaped what he believed was a drug transaction between Mr. Davies and another person in parking lot. Police subsequently recovered approximately 12.8 grams of Methylone from Mr. Davies’ vehicle. He later admitted purchasing $800 of what he believed to be ecstasy. The criminal matter was eventually dismissed after a judge found that the police lacked probable cause to search the vehicle. Later, Mr. Davies failed to cooperate with the ARDC investigation and did not appear at his own disciplinary hearing. 

  • Joanne Marie Denison, Niles

Ms. Denison, who was licensed in 1986, was suspended for three years and until further order of the Court. She repeatedly made false statements concerning the integrity of judges and others in weblog postings concerning a guardianship case. She was suspended on an interim basis on April 21, 2015. 

  • Celestine Dotson, St. Louis

Ms. Dotson was licensed in Illinois in 1997 and in Missouri in 1999. She was suspended by the Supreme Court of Missouri indefinitely, with the suspension stayed in its entirety by a one-year period of conditional probation, which she has since completed. She commingled and converted funds, collected an unreasonable fee, and engaged in dishonest conduct in connection with the disciplinary investigation in Missouri. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended her for six months and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed in its entirety by a one-year period of conditional probation, deemed satisfied. 

  • Andrew Thomas Freund, Crystal Lake

Mr. Freund, who was licensed in 1984, was suspended for two years and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after ninety days by a two-year period of conditional probation. While representing his client in a dissolution of marriage case, Mr. Freund was convicted of indirect criminal contempt after the judge found that he had violated court orders. Also, he appeared in court on behalf of a client after he had been removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys due to his failure to register or complete his mandatory continuing legal education requirements. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Todd Alexander Gordon, O'Fallon

Mr. Gordon, who was licensed in 2010, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court and he makes certain restitution. He neglected several different client matters, made a false statement to one of those clients, and failed to return unearned fees to clients. In addition, he received two court-imposed supervisions for drunk driving, one in Illinois and one in Missouri, and received conditional discharge for a third drunk driving offense in Illinois. 

  • Laurel Sue Hickman, St. Charles

Ms. Hickman, who was licensed in 1989, was suspended for one year, with the last six months stayed by a two-year period of conditional probation. She neglected three separate client matters, did not communicate with the clients, and failed to refund unearned fees to two of the clients. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Kaci L. Holguin, Glen Ellyn

Ms. Holguin, who was licensed in Illinois in 1997, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed in full by a one-year period of probation subject to conditions. In 2011, she neglected a client’s dissolution of marriage matter, resulting in the case being dismissed for want of prosecution. She also failed to refund an unearned fee to the same client. Further, she engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by appearing in court and filing pleadings in six different client matters after she had been removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys for failing to register. 

  • Shawn Kelvin Hu, Chicago

Mr. Hu, who was licensed in 2010, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. He mishandled three separate immigration matters by failing to file necessary pleadings and documents. He also made misrepresentations to the wife of one of his clients about the status of his client’s immigration proceedings. 

  • Edwin John Hull III, Chicago

Mr. Hull, who was licensed in 1979, was suspended for 90 days. He did not maintain appropriate records of activity in his firm’s client trust fund accounts and did not make reasonable efforts to ensure that his firm maintained those records, which contributed to his law partner’s misuse of more than $47,000 of client money. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Lawrence Howard Hyman, Chicago

Mr. Hyman, who was licensed in 1976, was suspended for 30 days. He failed appear at a status hearing in a client’s personal injury matter, which resulted in the case being dismissed. He did not reinstate the case. Instead, he concealed his neglect by misleading his client into believing the case was still pending, falsely representing to his client that the other side had made a settlement offer, fabricating phony settlement documents, falsely representing he was waiving his fee, and representing he would pay the outstanding medical lien and then attempting to limit his liability by delaying payment. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Theodore Roosevelt Jamison, III, Chicago

Mr. Jamison, who was licensed in 1992, was suspended for 18 months and until further order of the Court. He misappropriated a $2,500 security retainer that he received from a client in an employment discrimination matter, neglected the matter, and then failed to communicate with the client. He also did not participate in his own disciplinary proceeding. 

  • Melanie Cheri' King, Flossmoor

Ms. King, who was licensed in 2005, was suspended for six months and until she provides proof that she has disbursed certain escrow funds and successfully completed the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. She converted $964.04 that she was obligated to hold in escrow pending the completion of a real estate transaction. She also neglected a personal injury claim by missing multiple court dates, resulting in the matter being dismissed for want of prosecution. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Kevin M. Lynch, Naperville

Mr. Lynch, who was licensed in Illinois in 1990, was suspended for one year. In 2013, he neglected a client’s eviction matter, made several misrepresentations to the client about the status of the matter, represented to the court that he had his client’s authority to file a lawsuit when he did not, and fabricated a document which he presented to his client that purported to award damages to his client and allow him to regain possession of a property the client was renting to a tenant. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Thomas E. Margolis, Carbondale

Mr. Margolis, who was licensed in 1993, was suspended for 30 days. While representing a client in a workers’ compensation matter, he failed to appear at a scheduled arbitration and then made false statements to his opposing counsel and an arbitrator about his availability for arbitration. While representing another client in two other separate workers’ compensation matters, he did not communicate with the client concerning significant events in the cases and took action on the client’s behalf without consulting with the client. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Linda Rose Montgomery, Chicago

Ms. Montgomery, who was licensed in 1989, was suspended for eight months and until further order of the Court. She made false and frivolous allegations of professional misconduct against opposing counsel to the ARDC in order to gain an advantage in an appeal of a judgment that had been entered against her clients in a civil matter. She also failed to cooperate with the ARDC investigation and did not appear at the disciplinary hearing. 

  • Peter Owen Muldoon, Geneva

Mr. Muldoon, who was licensed in Illinois in 1989, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court. He failed to pursue a child custody matter on behalf of a client and failed to refund any portion of the fees and costs paid to him in that matter. In addition, he failed to cooperate with the ARDC and did not participate in his own disciplinary proceeding. 

  • Sarah A. Naughton, Tinley Park

Ms. Naughton, who was licensed in 2008, was suspended for 30 days. During a time when employed as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney, she entered a retail store with a companion after consuming alcohol. She engaged in disruptive behavior both inside and outside of the store. Police who were called to the scene handcuffed her and placed her in a police SUV. Thereafter, she repeatedly identified herself as an Assistant State’s Attorney and swore at a female officer, calling her derogatory names, and, after she was taken out of the SUV, sat on a curb screaming obscenities. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • David Edmund Neely, Chicago

Mr. Neely, who was licensed in 1982, was suspended for two years and until he makes certain restitution and complete the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. While serving as a Federal Public Defender, he submitted verified forms containing false claims for reimbursement, including submissions that requested payment for more than 24 hours on a given day. He also double-billed the federal program for certain work. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Corey Michael Novick, Chicago

Mr. Novick, who was licensed in 1994, was suspended for 60 days. He provided false information about his salary at a prior job on an employment application he submitted to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Later, he had his father submit a letter to the Department purporting to verify the false information contained in the application. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • David Alan Novoselsky, Waukegan

Mr. Novoselsky, who was licensed in 1973, was suspended for six months and until he successfully completes the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. He neglected two client matters, failed to abide by a client decisions in another matter, made misrepresentations to clients regarding the status of their cases, failed to reduce contingent fees to writing, failed to communicate with a client, did not refund unearned fees to two clients, and made offensive and vulgar personal attacks on opposing counsel and a court deputy. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • George Nicolas Panagoulias, Des Plaines

Mr. Panagoulias, who was licensed in 2001, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. He was convicted of driving a vehicle on a revoked or suspended license, and also failed to report that conviction to the ARDC. In addition, he was convicted of felony aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol. His suspension will begin at the conclusion of a two-year suspension ordered by the Supreme Court on March 24, 2015. In that earlier matter, he was sanctioned after he was convicted in Michigan for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and failing to report that conviction to the ARDC. 

  • Neil Allen Payne, Peoria

On September 25, 2013, Mr. Payne, who was licensed in 1995, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after ninety days by a three-year period of probation subject to conditions. He failed to diligently pursue six personal injury and workers’ compensation cases and failed to adequately communicate with clients. In three instances, the matters were dismissed without his clients' knowledge and he misrepresented to those clients that the cases were pending after they had been dismissed. He also failed to timely return an unearned fee to a client. Because he failed to comply with certain terms of his probation, his probation was revoked on July 7, 2015, and he was suspended for the remaining nine months of his suspension and until further order of the Court. 

  • Donald Paul Rosen, Carpentersville

Mr. Rosen, who was licensed in 2003, was suspended for three years and until further order of the Court. He misappropriated $85,412.78 in escrow funds, made false statements to his clients and a police officer who was investigating his conduct, tendered fabricated bank records to the ARDC in an attempt to conceal his misconduct, and provided false testimony during the disciplinary investigation. He attempted to blame the theft of funds and the fabrication of bank records on his 82 year-old mother. He was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court on January 16, 2015. 

  • David M. Schrauth, Winnetka

Mr. Schrauth, who was licensed in 1991, was suspended for 30 days. In 2008, he allowed a client’s personal injury matter to be dismissed because he failed to appear at a status hearing. Over the course of the following five years, he misled the client into believing that the case was still pending. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Wanemond Smith, Chicago

Mr. Smith, who was licensed in 1995, was suspended for two years, with the suspension stayed after sixty days by a two-year period of conditional probation. He mismanaged over $12,500 in funds relating to four different client matters. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Bruce Joseph Tackowiak, Los Angeles

Mr. Tackowiak was licensed in California in 1990 and in Illinois in 1991. He was suspended by the Supreme Court of California for two years, with the suspension stayed after a minimum of thirty days in favor of a two-year period of conditional probation. He failed to file a motion to set aside a default order previously entered against a client, failed to return client files and unearned fees, and did not cooperate with the disciplinary investigation in California. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him from the practice of law for two years, with the suspension stayed after thirty days in favor of a two-year period of probation, subject to the conditions imposed by the Supreme Court of California. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015. 

  • Kelly Patrick Ward, Dixon

On January 16, 2015, Mr. Ward, who was licensed in 1991, 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 left the scene of an automobile collision, resulting in a misdemeanor conviction for leaving the scene of a property damage accident. In addition, while appearing in court on behalf of a client, he was physically unsteady, had difficulty formulating appropriate questions for a witness in the proceeding, and smelled of alcohol, resulting in additional court proceedings. Because he failed to comply with certain terms of his probation, his probation was revoked on June 16, 2015, and he was suspended for two years and until further order of the Court. 

  • Paul M. Weiss, Highland Park

Mr. Weiss, who was licensed in 1993, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. He engaged in criminal conduct of a sexual nature against six different women, four of whom were his employees, over a period of several years. He was previously disciplined for making obscene phone calls to a 17-year-old high school girl whom he had never met. 

  • David Paul Wiener, Chicago

Mr. Wiener, who was licensed in 1969, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed in its entirety by a two-year period of conditional probation. He did not take the necessary steps to pursue his clients’ interests in three criminal cases, did not adequately communicate with those clients, did not return their unearned fees totaling $9,000, and made a misrepresentation about the status of one of those matters. In addition, in another criminal case, he failed to communicate with his client and did not return unearned fees of $4,000. 

  • David Leo Wisniewski, Prospect Heights

Mr. Wisniewski, who was licensed to practice law in 2000, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court. He failed to file a bankruptcy petition on behalf of a client, did not keep that client informed about her bankruptcy petition, failed to refund an unearned fee, and did not cooperate with the ARDC disciplinary investigation. 

REPRIMANDED

  • Paul D. Buhl, East Hampton, Conn. 

Mr. Buhl was licensed in Illinois in 1985 and in Connecticut in 1987. He was reprimanded by the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Middlesex, Connecticut, for failing to communicate with a client and for not diligently pursuing the client’s post-judgment civil matter. He was also ordered to complete a continuing legal education course in legal ethics for failing to turn over all of the documents to which another client was entitled. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline, reprimanded him, and ordered him to complete the course required in Connecticut. 

  • James Joseph Gende II, Pewaukee, Wis.

Mr. Gende was licensed in Illinois in 1995 and in Wisconsin in 2000. He was publicly reprimanded by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin and required to pay restitution to his former law firm for failing to hold funds relating to two cases in trust when both he and the law firm claimed an ownership interest in those funds; for failing to provide the firm with a full accounting of the personal injury settlement in one of those cases; and for failing to hold in trust other funds deposited with the Waukesha County Clerk of Court in connection with other cases. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded him. 

CENSURED

  • Ronald Richard Duebbert, Belleville

Mr. Duebbert, who was licensed in 1990, was censured. He knowingly and intentionally made a false statement about the qualifications, integrity, and other facts of his opponent in a promotional mailer that he sent to 75,000 to 100,000 potential voters while campaigning to be a judge in the 20th Judicial District in the November 2012 election. 

  • Ernest Kurt Koehler, Highland Park

Mr. Koehler, who was licensed in 1956, was censured. Despite having known of a client’s bankruptcy filing, he filed a lawsuit against the client and her business that included claims for unpaid legal fees, some of which had been incurred prior to the client’s personal bankruptcy discharge. He also entered into a debtor-creditor relationship with his client without obtaining the client’s written informed consent. 

  • Finis E. Williams, Jr., Concord, N.H.

Mr. Williams was licensed in Illinois in 1981 and in New Hampshire in 1985. He was publicly censured by the Professional Conduct Committee of the New Hampshire Supreme Court for failing to promptly pay court-ordered attorney’s fees to another lawyer from funds placed in escrow and for failing to keep disputed funds separate by disbursing escrowed funds to himself for legal fees. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and censured him. 

RETIREMENT STATUS

  • William George O'Toole, Western Springs

DISABILITY INACTIVE STATUS

  • Kathryn Grace Strobach, Grayslake
  • Colleen Renee Tyree, Lake Geneva, Wis. 
  • Roy Scott Wolf, Chicago
Posted on September 21, 2015 by Chris Bonjean
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