Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Consequences Of Audacity

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ratcheted up a proposed sanction

We approve the referee's recommendations with respect to the stipulated findings of fact and conclusions of law and we adopt those findings and conclusions. We determine that a three-year suspension is insufficient given the extremely serious nature of the misconduct. We suspend Attorney Krill's license to practice law for four and one-half years, retroactive to August 23, 2017.

A suspension based on public harm had been ordered

The reasons for the temporary suspension are  reflected in this opinion, namely, Attorney Krill was implicated in a financial scam conducted by one of his clients.


imposition of a retroactive three-year suspension would render Attorney Krill eligible to petition for reinstatement not long after the date of this order, an outcome the court finds untenable. Moreover, we consider the audacity and scope of the misconduct extremely troubling.

Details from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Krill, who had a downtown law office, has been unable to practice since August 2017 when the court took the rare step of issuing an emergency suspension against law license.

That suspension — only the second emergency suspension imposed in the Office of Lawyer Regulation's 20-year history — was issued because Krill "was implicated in a financial scam conducted by one of his clients."

The new suspension is retroactive to 2017. 

Krill's problems became public in 2017 when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that his law office and home were raided by the FBI as part of its investigation of a stock swindle.

Court records indicated the possible scam that involved $16.2 million from China, an English bank and a man who claimed to be an English solicitor even though English officials told the Journal Sentinel he was not a licensed solicitor.

The iconic signature of John Hancock — as it appears on the Declaration of Independence — was used on one of the documents discovered by the FBI, records state. 

Authorities believe a poorly executed, complex scheme cost investors more than $1 million and involved claims that their funds were being sent to England. Investors were promised astronomical returns, according federal court records.

In 2017, Krill said the money that investors put into the deal was to be used to cover costs incurred to free up a $16.2 million loan from China that was being held at NatWest, a large British bank. 

Krill could not be reached for comment Thursday.

No charges have been brought in the case and Krill has denied any wrongdoing, saying he lost money in the deal. 

In its suspension order, the court said that in one case Krill pocketed or invested $301,412 from settlements that were supposed to be held for clients in a trust account.

When Racine County Circuit Judge David Paulson in 2017 repeatedly told Krill to turn over the money, Krill told the judge "he had 'invested' the settlement money in bonds," the Supreme Court wrote. After repeatedly refusing to cough up the money, Paulson ordered Krill jailed for 30 days for contempt of court.

The Supreme Court order said Krill never invested the client's cash in bonds, as he had claimed.

"Krill had transferred funds from his trust account to banks in the United Kingdom and China, and had issued thousands of dollars in checks drawn on the trust account, payable to himself," the court wrote, noting Krill has never provided an accounting of how the settlement dollars were spent.

The court noted that Krill represented Eric Murray, a New York promoter. Krill "provided services to Murray in connection with this scheme, with reckless disregard for whether Murray's transactions were fraudulent," the court wrote.

In one case, using documents prepared by Krill, an individual identified as R.G. invested $17,500 to Murray in return for a promise that Murray would pay R.G. $72,000 14 days later.

The money was to be invested in England. Documents drafted by Krill banned  R.G. from contacting any of the institutions involved "to determine the legitimacy of the private banking transaction due to its 'sensitive nature,'" the court wrote.  

The court said that "all the documents purporting to substantiate the private banking transaction were forged and fraudulent." Those documents were given to R.G. by Krill, the court said.  

Krill did not tell regulators where the individual's $17,500 was today. He gave regulators a letter from a United Kingdom solicitor named Harvey Graham stating that Krill was not involved in "any kind of fraudulent transaction."

In 2017, the Journal Sentinel reported that there has never been a person named Harvey Graham listed on England's Roll of Solicitors.

The court said that regulators determined the Graham letter was "false and fraudulent."

Regulators originally called for Krill to be disbarred but later reached a deal with Krill calling for the lawyer to be suspended for three years –— an agreement rejected by the court as not being severe enough. 

Because of the length of his suspension, Krill will have to make all the payments ordered by the court before he can petition the court for reinstatement. 

"We emphasize that Attorney Krill will remain barred from practicing law in Wisconsin unless and until he proves his fitness in a formal reinstatement proceeding," the court said.

(Mike Frisch)

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