Friday, August 19, 2011

Urban Legend

An Illinois Hearing Board has recommended disbarment of an attorney convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He also had converted the funds of several clients.

The hearing board describes the criminal and other misconduct

Respondent’s crimes are extremely serious and represent the most egregious professional misconduct the members of this panel have encountered. As Judge Guzman commented in sentencing Respondent on remand, it is quite frightening to have an attorney, a person involved in the legal system, engage in serious criminal activity, use a police officer to "help him rip off drug dealers," and act and sound like a gang banger or drug dealer while doing so...

Judge Guzman observed:

I don’t frankly know of a series of actions that would more tend to undermine the safety of our community…than those; drugs, violence, the perversion of our system of law enforcement, the betrayal of his professional duties and responsibilities as an officer of the court ….

We fully concur in these observations. The conduct that led to Respondent’s conviction alone warrants disbarment...

In addition to his flagrant criminal misconduct, Respondent engaged in multiple acts of conversion. While the exact amount converted is not clear, it is clear Respondent converted a very sizable sum. Count VIII alone involves conversion of over $22,000.00 from five separate clients. Conversion of client funds is a gross violation of an attorney’s responsibilities to his or her clients, warranting disbarment when no mitigating factors are present.

Particulars about the criminal conviction (and gang bang-ese dialogue) can be found in the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit remanding the conviction for resentencing. The court described the case:

In August 2004, Harvey Gooden, a police informant,
invited an attorney, Christopher Millet, to participate
in a robbery of a drug dealer. Millet, who
claimed to be well versed in the art of robbing drug
dealers, readily accepted Gooden's offer. After the
robbery, Gooden asked Millet for a gun, purportedly
to protect himself from the dealer they had
robbed, and after some prodding, Millet obliged.

The court noted that the attorney became addicted to heroin after more than a decade of sobriety during which he had attended law school and obtained admission to the Bar. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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