May 8, 2008
Taking Unearned Fees Leads To Criminal Conviction
The Illinois ARDC has filed a complaint alleging that an attorney had accepted fees in five matters when he was aware of a recommendation of a two-year suspension and a pending petition for interim suspension. He failed to perform the services and failed to refund the unearned fees. Here, the story takes an unusual turn--criminal charges were brought that resulted in a conviction and 90 day jail sentence followed by two-years of probation. The total fees were slightly under $20,000. It is further alleged that, as of the time that the charges were filed, no restitution has been paid.
Kudos to the criminal prosecutor. I don't imagine that a case like this would attract the attention of many prosecutors around the country as a theft or taking under false pretenses case. I have a memory (which may be failing with advancing age) from my bar counsel days of being told by an AUSA in D.C. that their office wasn't interested in cases of attorney theft involving less than $100,000. Perhaps a form of professional courtesy? (Mike Frisch)
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