The Bar News

Illinois Supreme Court Disbars 3, Suspends 8 in Latest Disciplinary Filing

The Illinois Supreme Court announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on November 17, 2021. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

Disbarred

Leijuana Doss, Country Club Hills

Ms. Doss, who was licensed in 1989, was disbarred on consent for dishonestly converting $8,767 in funds being held in trust for her client in a real estate transaction and for improperly withholding $3,875 in funds being held in trust for that same client. Ms. Doss claimed that amount was required to satisfy her legal fees, but her client disputed her entitlement to the fee.  

John P. Jacoby, Mokena

Mr. Jacoby, who was licensed in 1988, was disbarred on consent. In the course of representing a client, he failed to promptly turn over $43,601 in funds belonging to the client and third parties. Additionally, he used $13,313 of that $43,601 for his own purposes without his client’s authority.

Robert Lee Officer, St. Louis, Missouri 

Mr. Officer was licensed in both Missouri and Illinois in 1970. The Supreme Court of Missouri disbarred him for failing to perform services after accepting a fee, failing to properly hold client funds, failing to provide competent representation, and failing to cooperate in disciplinary investigations. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him. 

Suspended

Jeffrey Marc Benjamin, Corona, New York 

Mr. Benjamin was licensed in Illinois in 1998, and in both New York and New Jersey in 2000. In 2016, the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, suspended him for six months and until further order of the Court for misappropriating $6,250 in settlement funds and failing to promptly comply with his client’s reasonable requests for information. After the New York court reinstated him to the practice of law in that State, the Supreme Court of New Jersey imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for six months. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and also suspended him for six months. The suspension is effective on December 7, 2021. 

William John Bowe, Allenhurst, New Jersey   

Mr. Bowe was licensed in Illinois in 1982 and in New Jersey in 1984. The Supreme Court of New Jersey issued an order prohibiting Mr. Bowe, whose New Jersey law license had been administratively suspended for failure to pay registration fees, from applying for reinstatement to the New Jersey bar for one year. Mr. Bowe had continued to practice law after the administrative suspension of his law license, and he did not maintain required trust account records. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for one year and until he is reinstated to the practice of law in New Jersey. The suspension is effective on December 7, 2021. 

  Patrick Jon Hudec,   East Troy, Wisconsin

Mr. Hudec was licensed in Wisconsin in 1979 and in Illinois in 1980. Between 2007 and 2021, he was publicly reprimanded twice in Wisconsin, as well as suspended twice in Wisconsin for 60 days. A referee appointed by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin publicly reprimanded him for neglecting a client matter, failing to communicate with a client, and failing to cooperate in disciplinary investigations. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin 1) publicly reprimanded him for providing incompetent representation, engaging in action that served merely to harass or maliciously injure an opposing party, and engaging in an ex parte communication with a court; 2) suspended him for 60 days for neglecting two client matters, failing to communicate with those clients, and failing to make a reasonably diligent effort to comply with discovery requests; and 3) suspended him for 60 days for mishandling his trust account, and failing to cooperate with a disciplinary investigation. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline, reprimanded him, and suspended him for 120 days. The suspension is effective on December 7, 2021.

Sean Michael Liles, Springfield

Mr. Liles, who was licensed in 2005, was suspended from the practice of law for one year and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after six months by a two-year period of probation. He neglected an incarcerated client’s post-conviction matter and failed to communicate with that client. He also engaged in dishonest conduct by making false statements and providing false documents to the ARDC during the disciplinary investigation. The suspension is effective on December 7, 2021. 

Michael Leonard Loprieno, Central Point, Oregon

Mr. Loprieno, who was licensed in 2010, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. In 2018, Mr. Loprieno fabricated documents that purported to show that another attorney had prepared documents that would have changed the terms of Mr. Loprieno’s grandmother’s estate plan, then falsely denied creating those documents in his initial response to the ARDC’s request for information. A suspension until further order of the Court is an indefinite suspension which requires the suspended lawyer to petition for reinstatement after the fixed period of suspension ends. Reinstatement is not automatic and must be allowed by the Supreme Court of Illinois following a hearing before the ARDC Hearing Board.

James Robert Mason, Willow Springs

Mr. Mason, who licensed in 2019, was suspended from the practice of law for five months. He used his former firm’s bank account information without permission to pay his attorney registration fees, and he made misrepresentations to the Administrator in writing and in his testimony at a sworn statement during the investigation of his conduct. The suspension is effective on December 7, 2021.

Wanemond Smith, Chicago

Mr. Smith, who was licensed in 1995, was suspended for three years and until further of the Court. He converted $25,000 belonging to a client in a probate matter, and he converted $5,947 belonging to another client in a domestic relations matter. A suspension until further order of the Court is an indefinite suspension which requires the suspended lawyer to petition for reinstatement after the fixed period of suspension ends. Reinstatement is not automatic and must be allowed by the Supreme Court of Illinois following a hearing before the ARDC Hearing Board.  

Jennifer Prager Sodaro, Scottsdale, Arizona

Ms. Sodaro was licensed in Illinois in 1986 and in Arizona in 2017. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Supreme Court of Arizona suspended her for six months and one day. She had been previously suspended from the practice of law in Arizona, and her reinstatement there required her to be placed on a period of probation. She refused to agree to the terms of probation. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended her for six months and until she is reinstated to the practice of law in Arizona. The suspension is effective on December 7, 2021. 

Censured

Thomas Michael Barrett,  Wauwatosa,  Wisconsin   

Mr. Barrett was licensed in Illinois in 1990 and in Wisconsin in 1991. A referee appointed by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin publicly reprimanded him for possessing a firearm silencer in violation of Wisconsin Statutes. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and censured him.

Todd William Sivia, Edwardsville

Mr. Sivia, who was licensed in 2005, was censured and ordered to complete the ARDC Professionalism Seminar within one year of the entry of the Court’s order. He engaged in a conflict of interest when he represented clients with adverse interests in a small-claims action, and he failed to explain the matter to one client to the extent reasonably necessary for that client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.  

Posted on November 17, 2021 by Celeste Antoinette Niemann
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