Illinois Supreme Court Disbars Two, Suspends 13 in Latest Disciplinary Filing
The Illinois Supreme Court announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on May 24, 2018. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.
- Benjamin William Meyer, Wheaton
Mr. Meyer, who was licensed in 2011, was disbarred on consent. He pleaded guilty to three counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child in Ogle County and was sentenced to serve ten years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for each count, 30 years in total, to be served consecutively, with 85 days credit based on his actual time in custody. The sentencing judge also ordered him to provide a DNA sample, submit to sexually transmitted disease and HIV testing, pay fees and costs and, once released, register as a sex offender for the duration of his natural life.
- Robert Glen Riffner, Schaumburg
Mr. Riffner, who was licensed in 1984, was disbarred on consent. He misappropriated over $216,000 in connection with his representation of several different clients, made misrepresentations to one client, and failed to cooperate in the disciplinary proceeding.
- Scott Michael Baldwin, Metamora
Mr. Baldwin, who was licensed in 1994, was suspended for two years and until further order of the Court. While acting as a court-appointed guardian, he misappropriated approximately $26,000 from a disabled person’s estate and filed a false accounting in the guardianship proceeding because he purposely omitted mention of the funds he had taken.
- John Paul Carroll, Naperville
Mr. Carroll, who was licensed in 1976, was suspended for six months. He intentionally communicated with a represented criminal defendant without the knowledge and consent of that defendant’s appointed attorney. Mr. Carroll has been previously disciplined by the Supreme Court. The suspension is effective on June 14, 2018.
- Deborah Crouse Cobb, Collinsville
Ms. Cobb, who was licensed in 1984, was suspended for sixty days. She did not provide competent representation to clients in an adoption case. Specifically, she failed to obtain reports of the clients’ psychological evaluations or discuss those evaluations with her clients, even though she expected the evaluations to be a subject of the court proceeding. She also had a conflict of interest due to her business and personal relationship with the adoption agency involved in the case, failed to adequately explain the nature of the conflict to her clients, and failed to withdraw from representing the clients when her continued representation would result in her representing them while she had a conflict of interest. The suspension is effective on June 14, 2018.
- William Eugene Dicks, Jr., Chicago
Mr. Dicks, who was licensed in 1976, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court. He engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by agreeing to represent two clients after his name had been removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys for not registering and paying the required registration fee. In addition, he failed to refund unearned fees when he did not perform enough work to warrant the $3,000 he had received. Mr. Dicks failed to appear at his disciplinary hearing.
- Michael Joseph Fiandaca, Chicago
Mr. Fiandaca, who was licensed in 1991, was suspended for one year. He engaged in a conflict of interest when he represented two clients, both the borrower and lender, in a loan transaction, without making the required disclosures to the lender. Later, he engaged in a separate conflict of interest when he borrowed $75,000 from a client, again without making the required disclosures. The suspension is effective on June 14, 2018.
- Arnim Johnson, Jr., Chicago
Mr. Johnson, who was licensed in 1980, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court, with such suspension fully stayed by a two-year period of conditional probation. During the course of representing the father of a child in an allocation of parental responsibilities proceeding, he targeted his opposing counsel with numerous e-mails and at least two pleadings in which he made inappropriate and intemperate remarks about her, her client, and the child that was the subject of the proceedings.
- Elizabeth Ann Johnson, Morris
Ms. Johnson, who was licensed in 2010, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. She committed the criminal act of knowingly possessing cocaine, a controlled substance. In addition, she agreed to represent a client in his defense of felony traffic matters, accepted a $1,000 fee, appeared several hours late for two court dates, failed to appear for two other court dates and failed to respond to multiple phone calls from the client. She also did not appear at her disciplinary hearing.
- Robert Good Lohman, III, Des Plaines
Mr. Lohman, who was licensed in 1997, was suspended for one year and until he successfully completes the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. He was ordered by a judge to hold certain settlement money relating to a client’s claim against an auto repair shop in his client trust account. Without his client’s consent or court authorization, he paid himself over $16,000 of that money. The suspension is effective on June 14, 2018.
- Jeffrey Michael McCarthy, Lockport
Mr. McCarthy, who was licensed in 1992, was suspended for six months and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed in its entirety by a two-year period of conditional probation. He failed to timely files briefs in a post-decree appeal and cross appeal, resulting in his client’s appeal being dismissed and the client being barred from filing a brief related to his ex-wife’s appeal.
- Steven Albert Miner, Barrington
Mr. Miner, who was licensed in 1981, was suspended for two years. He dishonestly diverted to his own use a significant amount of funds belonging to a family friend. The suspension is effective on June 14, 2018.
- Mark Brian Moran, Aviston
Mr. Moran, who was licensed in 1989, was suspended for two years and until further order of the Court, with reinstatement conditioned upon the payment of restitution of $6,250 plus interest at the rate of 9 percent per annum, compounded from the date of September 25, 2011. He improperly entered into a business transaction with clients, failed to inform clients that a judgment order had been entered against them, and failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in an appeal.
- Jessica Arong O’Brien*, Chicago
Ms. O’Brien, who was licensed in 1998, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court and the disciplinary matter was referred to the Judicial Inquiry Board. A federal jury found her guilty of mail fraud and bank fraud in connection with loans she obtained for investment properties between 2004 and 2006. She is scheduled to be sentenced in the criminal case this summer.
- Bernhard Olson II, Galesburg
Mr. Olson, who was licensed in 1970, was suspended for six months. He converted $4,850.68 from his client’s share of joint property in a dissolution of marriage case. He did not inform his client when he received the checks and signed her endorsement on them without her authority or knowledge. The suspension is effective on June 14, 2018.
- Michelle Gonzalez, Chicago
Ms. Gonzalez, who was licensed in 2007, was censured and ordered to pay restitution of $4,000 to a client and successfully complete the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. She incompetently represented a client who wanted property transferred out of an Illinois land trust and charged that same client an unreasonable fee for the work that she did perform.
- George Raymond Ripplinger, Belleville
Mr. Ripplinger, who was licensed in 1970, was censured. During the course of representing a client in a legal malpractice action, he concealed evidence from opposing counsel regarding his client’s injuries in a separate matter, as well as the existence of a lawsuit his client had filed related to those injuries. He also violated court orders during the ensuing jury trials by attempting to elicit testimony that the trial judge had determined was inadmissible.
*The order was entered by the court before the May 2018 term, but not included in any prior release.