Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Conviction Bars Innocence Claim

The Illinois Review Board has recommended the disbarment of an attorney convicted in a mortgage fraud scheme.

The attorney pled not guilty and fought the case all the way up to cert denied.


It is clear that the hearing panel chair’s decision not to allow Respondent to impeach her convictions or relitigate her purported innocence in her disciplinary proceeding was not a position that “no reasonable person” would agree with. Chiang, 07 CH 67 (Review Bd.), at 10. Rather, it was the same position taken by every tribunal that considered her claims. Accordingly, the hearing panel chair’s ruling granting the motion in limine was not an abuse of discretion, and we will not overturn it.


The present matter does not have the overwhelming amount of mitigation that the foregoing suspension cases did. There is no question that Respondent was the architect of her fraudulent scheme. Moreover, she caused significant financial harm to the lenders who were victims of her fraud, and has yet to pay the $600,000 in restitution that she owes to them. She also profited from her fraud by keeping at least $200,000 for herself. Most significantly, Respondent has yet to acknowledge her wrongdoing or express any remorse for it, at least in her disciplinary proceeding. Notably, in her opening statement at her disciplinary hearing, she repeatedly stated that she was innocent of the criminal charges. (See, e.g,, Report of Proceedings at 46 (“I have lost everything, but I will tell you that I will continue to maintain my innocence. I am innocent. I am not guilty. Not am I only not guilty, I am innocent.”).)

The Court has stated that an attorney’s attitude regarding her conduct is significant when considered in conjunction with one of the objectives of attorney discipline – to protect the public. “An attorney's failure to recognize the wrongfulness of [her] conduct often necessitates a greater degree of discipline than is otherwise necessary, in order that the attorney will come to appreciate the wrongfulness of [her] conduct and not again victimize members of the public with such misconduct.” 

(Mike Frisch)


Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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