Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Grandma Ruse

An Assistant Attorney General in Illinois is the subject of bar disciplinary charges for alleged conduct in the course of an investigation into compliance with state law.

The defendant in the underlying matter(who was represented by counsel) has the interesting biblical last name of Onan. The investigation involved a condo for seniors (Onan Senior Suites) that was charged with violations of the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act. The AAG sought to establish that the condo had four stories, which would bring it under the requirements of the Act.

The allegations:

Because the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act required that buildings be at least four stories for the Act to apply, on or about March 18, 2008, Respondent developed a plan to visit Onan Senior Suites to determine whether the garage level of Onan Senior Suites could be viewed as a storey, thereby bringing the building within the scope of the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act.

On or about March 18, 2008, Respondent, Ipjian [another attorney with the AG's office], and Jamie Frankic-Berkett, a Disability Specialist for the Disability Rights Bureau, visited Onan Senior Suites, to determine whether the building was accessible to people with disabilities and to determine whether the garage was finished or unfinished. Prior to arriving on March 18, 2008, Respondent had informed Ipjian that they would only view areas of the building that were open to members of the public. Although Respondent and Ipjian had appeared in court in relation to case number 04 CH 1630 on March 18, 2008, and Respondent knew that Mr. Nordigian represented the defendants in that matter, Respondent did not give Mr. Nordigian notice of his intention to visit Onan Super Suites that day, nor did he otherwise inform Mr. Nordigian of his plan to view the garage for purposes of determining whether it could be considered a storey for purposes of the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act.

Upon arriving to Onan Senior Suites on March 18, 2008, and discovering that the doors to the building were locked, Respondent rang the doorbell and informed the building manager that he and Ipjian were siblings, and that they were interested in viewing the building because Respondent's grandmother was interested in moving there from Wisconsin.

Respondent's statements to the building manager, as described...above, were false, and Respondent knew they were false, because Respondent and Ipjian are not siblings and because Respondent's grandmother was not interested in moving to the building from Wisconsin. His statements were intended to induce the building manager to give Respondent and Ipjian access to areas of the building that were not open to the public, so that Respondent could gain information to assist him in proving his theory that the Onan building was not accessible to people with disabilities.

At no time did Respondent inform the building manager that he and Ipjian were the attorneys prosecuting the case against the owners of Onan Senior Suites, case number 04 CH 1630.

Based upon the information that Respondent provided to the building manager regarding his grandmother's purported desire to move to the building, the building manager showed Respondent and Ipjian areas of the building that were not accessible to the public, including the basement, a one-bedroom unit, and a two-bedroom unit.

The complaint alleges that the conduct violated, among other rules, Rules 4.1and 4.4. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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