Friday, April 16, 2010

A Series Of Retail Thefts

While noting that an attorney's series of retail thefts and efforts to avoid the ensuing criminal consequences evinced a "serious disregard for the law," the Wisconsin Supreme Court accepted the stipulated discipline of a six month suspension with a requirement that the attorney petition for rreinstatement. The court described the various incidents, including:

Attorney...'s professional misconduct primarily stems from a series of retail thefts and her subsequent interactions with law enforcement.  These incidents cover a period of time from the spring of 2007 through the spring of 2008.

On May 24, 2007, Attorney...was arrested for retail theft at a department store in Greendale, Wisconsin.  She was subsequently convicted of misdemeanor retail theft (loss under $2,500).  The circuit court imposed and stayed a sentence of 30 days in the Milwaukee County House of Correction and one year of probation.  Attorney...'s husband timely notified the OLR of this conviction...

Counts 2 through 4 relate to an incident that began at a gas station just off Interstate 94 (I-94) in Windsor, Wisconsin in November 2007.  The Wisconsin State Patrol was notified that a vehicle registered to Attorney...had driven off without paying for gasoline.  A state trooper subsequently stopped Attorney...on eastbound I-94.  Attorney...acknowledged that she had not paid for the gas, but claimed that it had been an accident.  A second state trooper arrived, and while the two officers were discussing the matter, Attorney...fled the scene of the traffic stop.  A chase ensued on eastbound I-94, which ended when Attorney...drove her car over an embankment and into a farm field.  At the local hospital Attorney...stated she had fled the scene of the traffic stop because she was afraid that she was going to be arrested.

Attorney...pled guilty to one count of felony fleeing and eluding an officer.  A charge of misdemeanor retail theft was dismissed and read in for sentencing purposes.  The Dane County circuit court sentenced Attorney...to pay a $6,430 fine, which she paid within 60 days.  Attorney...failed to advise the OLR of this conviction within five days....

Counts 5 through 7 of the complaint and stipulation arise out of two more retail theft incidents that occurred in Waukesha County in January and February 2008.  On January 14, 2008, Attorney...left a department store in Brookfield with some stolen merchandise.  As she entered her vehicle, a store employee asked her to come back to the store to discuss the theft.  Attorney...told the employee to get out of the way or the employee would get hurt.  She then drove off, but was subsequently arrested.  For this incident, Attorney...was again charged with misdemeanor retail theft.  That charge was ultimately dismissed and read in at sentencing for the conviction discussed in the succeeding paragraph.

On February 14, 2008, Attorney...was arrested for stealing boxed sets of compact discs at a music store in Brookfield.  She falsely told police that her name was Maree Sheridan and gave a series of false birth dates.  With respect to this incident, Attorney...ultimately pled guilty to one count of misdemeanor retail theft.  A count of misdemeanor resisting or obstructing an officer was dismissed and read in for sentencing purposes, as was the retail theft charge for the January 14, 2008, incident.  The Waukesha County circuit court sentenced Attorney...to 30 days in jail, but stayed that sentence and placed Attorney...on one year of probation, as well as imposed fines and costs totaling $602.  Attorney...did report her arrest and the proposed plea agreement in this matter to the OLR...

That's a lot of thefts for such a short suspension. Of course, the attorney will have to prove present fitness in order to be reinstated. (Mike Frisch)

 

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