Thursday, July 9, 2009
Notwithstanding the objections of the Administrator, an Illinois hearing board has recommended that a petition for reinstatement be granted. The attorney had been suspended in 2006 for a year and a day for a bizarre scheme to induce fellow members of a public defender's office to leave to join a firm that she purportedly was starting up with the aid of family wealth and a committed source of business. The information given to her colleagues was false:
Petitioner testified [in the reinstatement] that in 2001 she spoke to two other attorneys in her office, Peter Gruber and Gregory Brown, about forming a law firm. Thereafter, she met with three additional attorneys from the public defender’s office, Myrrha Guzman, Jeanne Meyer and Kimberly Small, and an attorney from the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office, Christie Krupp, and offered each of them positions as associates in the firm. Petitioner represented to the latter attorneys that she, Gruber, and Brown were forming a law firm, that they had municipal contracts with the City of Elgin, Dundee and Carpentersville and they would be handling closings for a new housing development. She advised the attorneys that she would be funding the firm with her personal wealth which derived from property ownership, an interest in a shopping mall, and gravel rights. In fact, her representations regarding the work to be done by the firm and her personal wealth were completely untrue.
Petitioner acknowledged that in support of her scheme she created, or assisted in creating, and disseminated articles of incorporation for her intended law firm. Further, she identified a deposit slip reflecting a deposit of $5,200,000 into an account at Bank One, and stated that the handwriting on the deposit slip was hers. She did not recall creating the deposit slip, but has no reason to believe she did not create it. She stated she does not recall all of her statements and actions from 2001 and early 2002.
Petitioner testified she looked at several buildings in Kane County to house her purported law firm, and worked with a real estate agent. She entered into contracts for several specific properties, but then reneged on her promise to purchase. In one instance she forfeited $5,000 in earnest money.
Petitioner acknowledged representing to the prospective members of her law firm that she would be establishing a foundation known as Cindy’s Wishful Thinkings, Incorporated. Although the foundation was entirely fictitious, she created or participated in the creation of various documents for the foundation, including bylaws and resolutions, and compiled a list of assets, the value of which was represented to be over $41 million, that purportedly belonged to the foundation. Petitioner further represented to the attorneys that she intended to form a not-for-profit-organization known as the Monica Gifford Foundation to assist at-risk youth in Kane County, and acknowledged creating bylaws for that foundation. The foundation was never established because Petitioner did not have the financial means to fund it. Petitioner stated that her discussions with the other attorneys were not conducted in secret, and their intentions were well known within the office.
The hearing board evaluated medical testimony offered by the petitioner and the Administrator in concluding that reinstatement would not be detrimental to the public and the profession;
The hearing board recommends that the petitioner continue with treatment and write a letter of apology to the former colleagues. Carolyn Elefant had a post at MyShingle that discussed some lessons from the underlying disciplinary case. (Mike Frisch)