Sunday, May 8, 2011

Focus On Rehabilitation

An Illinois attorney disbarred in 2005 for a criminal conviction involving conspiracy to distribute cocaine sought reinstatement in 2009. After a hearing, the Administrator concluded that reinstatement appropriate and a favorable petition was submitted to the Illinois Supreme Court. The court rejected the petition in light of apparent inconsistencies in the petitioner's versions of his offense.

On remand, the Review Board concluded that the facts of the offense were "confusing" but that there are no material inconsistencies in the petitioner's explanations. The board concludes that the petitioner has been candid and forthright and has now recommended reinstatement.

The offense involved petitioner's addiction to cocaine and his involvement with a client who he had represented in a custody matter:

At his reinstatement hearing [petitioner] described his drug habit and conviction. He began using cocaine to help keep himself awake and manage pain resulting from a back injury. He initially obtained cocaine from a bartender but then began purchasing it from a former client...He purchased cocaine regularly from [the client] for about a year and half.

[Petitioner] and his former wife used approximately one ounce of cocaine per week. All of [his] disposable income went toward his cocaine habit. Occasionally [he] shared cocaine with friends. [He] stated that occasionally he accepted money from his friends who offered to reimburse him for what he spent on the cocaine.

At some point [the client] asked [petitioner] to keep a safe in [his] office. [Petitioner] testified that he did not have access to the safe but "had every reason to believe there was [sic] drugs or cash in it." He stated that he kept the safe in his office for less than a week, contrary to [the client's] statement that the safe "was there for quite a while."

Eventually, [the client] began cooperating with federal authorities and wore a wire while dealing with [petitioner]. [The client] asked [petitioner] to introduce him to a former supplier of [petitioner's], and [he] agreed to do so. [Petitioner] called the former supplier, who indicated that he did not want to become involved because the deal with [the client] "sounded weird." At the time, [petitioner] owed [the client] $2,000 for a previous cocaine purchase. [Petitioner] had in his possession an ounce of cocaine, which he offered to give to [the client] in exchange for erasing $1,000 of his debt.

[Petitioner] became suspicious of [the client] after he received a call from the mother of [the client's] fiancée, who warned [petitioner] to watch out for [the client]. [Petitioner] then contacted someone he knew at the State's Attorney's office and asked whether he was under investigation. [Petitioner's] contact stated that she was not aware of an investigation but later refused to take his calls. Federal agents then approached [petitioner] and asked to talk with him about a drug scheme they were investigating. [Petitioner] talked to them for "four days in a row" without the assistance of counsel. At sentencing, he received a two-point reduction in his sentence for cooperating with the authorities.

The board concludes

There is no dispute that [petitioner] recognizes the serious of his misconduct, accepts responsibility for it, and has taken the necessary steps to improve himself. The testimony of the witnesses clearly demonstrate that he has stabilized his life, and more importantly is dealing candidly with his addiction issues.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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