Friday, August 30, 2013
The Illinois Review Board has proposed a four-year suspension of an attorney convicted of marijuana distribution:
In 2007, Respondent's family owned property in Indiana. In October 2007, Sheldon stayed at Respondent's condo in Chicago and at the home in Indiana during a distribution of a load of marijuana. Respondent allowed Sheldon to store several hockey duffel bags containing about 250 pounds of marijuana at the residences. Respondent testified he did not know the bags contained drugs. After a couple of days, Respondent falsely told Sheldon he had to leave because Respondent's parents would be visiting the Indiana home. A few days later, Respondent purchased six pounds of marijuana from Sheldon. He sold some of it to a friend, Victor, for a profit.
In November 2007, Respondent and Victor traveled to California to meet with Sheldon, where they purchased about 13-15 pounds of marijuana. Sheldon showed them the ranch where he grew the marijuana. There they arranged to purchase more marijuana on credit. After this transaction, however, Sheldon asked Respondent if he was "ready for more", but Respondent declined.
The federal government was investigating Sheldon in late 2007, and in January 2008, law enforcement officers raided the property in Indiana and arrested Respondent. The authorities found 14 pounds of marijuana in the garage. The authorities also raided Respondent's residence in Chicago and found evidence of money orders to Sheldon. Respondent was taken to a jail in Milwaukee.
Respondent contacted the Department of Justice and offered his cooperation against the advice of his attorneys. In February 2008, Respondent was charged in a superseding indictment along with 29 others. Respondent only knew three of the co-defendants and prior to the indictment he did not know his conduct was connected to Milwaukee.
As to sanction:
Respondent was not an elected official at the time of his misconduct. In fact, he was not actively practicing law and no client was implicated by his involvement in the criminal conduct. He cooperated with the federal government and was candid in his testimony before the Hearing Board. He expressed remorse. His involvement in the criminal conduct was limited in time and in scope and he has not engaged in any misconduct since 2007. Consequently, we do not feel that disbarment, the ultimate sanction for an attorney, is warranted in this matter. We agree that a four year suspension is appropriate but believe that the suspension should run until further order of the Court. Given the seriousness of Respondent's misconduct and given the fact that he had not yet completed his community service as required at his sentencing, we believe that a suspension and until further order will best serve the purposes of discipline and will insure that Respondent has been rehabilitated before he is allowed to apply for reinstatement to the bar. Respondent asks that any sanction be retroactive to the date he agreed to an interim suspension. While we recognize that the Court has, in limited circumstances, allowed suspensions to be retroactive, given the severity of the misconduct, we do not feel that such a lenient measure is warranted in this case.
A dissent would disbar. (Mike Frisch)