Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Husband, Associate Charged With Aiding Disbarred Attorney's Unauthorized Practice

The Illinois Administrator has filed an amended complaint alleging that two attorney assisted a suspended {and later disbarred) attorney in engaging in unauthorized practice and related misconduct

In January 2013, Respondent Allegra became an associate at Niew Legal Partners, P.C., which was located at 1000 Jorie Boulevard, Suite 206 in Oakbrook. Respondent Niew and Ms. Niew were partners at Niew Legal Partners, and Respondent Allegra and attorney Ryan Liska ("Liska") were associates at Niew Legal Partners. Heather Tichy ("Tichy") was a paralegal at Niew Legal Partners and Bernadette Ibaska ("Ibaska") was the secretary at Niew Legal Partners. In March 2013, Liska left Niew Legal Partners.

Ms. Niew was disbarred in 2013 "as a result of her mishandling of her client’s $2.34 million."

The allegations as to Mr. Niew

Between November 20, 2013, the date that the Court entered an order disbarring Ms. Niew, through late May or early June 2014, Respondent Niew allowed Ms. Niew to maintain a presence at his law office located at 1000 Jorie Boulevard, Suite 206 in Oakbrook.

Between November 20, 2013 and about early June 2014, Ms. Niew maintained an office in the Jorie Boulevard suite, and she was physically present in the office four to five times per week. During that same period of time Respondent Niew observed Ms. Niew talking on the office telephone, writing letters on the office computer, and conducting meetings. Although Respondent Niew knew that his wife had been disbarred, he encouraged her to deposit money into the firm’s client funds account that he knew or should have known was client money for legal services.

And as to Mr. Allegra

Between November 2013 through May 2014, Respondent Allegra, an affiliated attorney at the Law Offices of Stanley Niew, participated in meetings between Ms. Niew and at least six legal clients, including Harry Haralampopolous, Maciej Wilhelm, Peter Vhalos, Julia and Michael Maloney, and John Hryn. Respondent Allegra accepted instructions from Ms. Niew regarding legal work to be completed by Respondent Allegra on behalf of at least one client, Arno Reichel.

On or about November 19, 2013, while Ms. Niew was suspended on an interim basis until further order of the Court, Peter Vlahos sent a facsimile to Ms. Niew via the law firm facsimile machine. The facsimile consisted of Peter Vlahos’ handwritten cover letter addressed to Kathleen Niew, and a copy of a letter to John Vlahos dated October 4, 2013 from the Volunteer Coordinator at the DuPage County Circuit Court related to In re the Estate of Penelope Vlahos, a disabled person, case number 2011P1089. The October 4, 2013 letter stated that John Vlahos was the court appointed guardian of Penelope Vlahos, and that his annual accounting and report on the condition of the Penelope Vlahos had been scheduled for hearing on January 2, 2014.

Mr. Niew's answer to the allegations is linked here.  Mr Allegra's answer is linked here.

The Chicago Tribune covered Ms. Niew's disbarment and noted

This is not the first time the court has sanctioned Niew. In 2001, justices suspended her license for nine months based on allegations she forged clients' signatures. In 1989 the state disciplined her for falsely stating that she was single when she married her current husband, attorney Stanley Niew.

The Tribune reported on her conviction and almost six-year sentence.

Prosecutors had sought a 10-year prison term for Niew, who had pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud last June. Before her indictment, she was a self-styled real estate and probate law guru known for her Saturday morning call-in radio show on WIND-AM 560.

The judge said Niew's betrayal of her clients played a part in his decision to sentence her to five years and 10 months in prison. He also ordered her to pay restitution of $2.34 million, but it was unclear if Niew would be able to come up with any of the money.

"Something has to be done when a case like this comes up," he said.

Leinenweber also found Niew responsible for defrauding another client out of $500,000. Niew had led the client to believe she needed the money for her upcoming divorce proceedings, but prosecutors said that the divorce was a fiction and that Niew blew the money in the same way.

(Mike Frisch)


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