Jonathan Bilyk Jun. 20, 2016, 10:05am

Nine lawyers – including one convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman in her hotel room, and a former downstate prosecutor who allegedly tampered with official state’s attorneys computer files after learning he wouldn’t be promoted to the top prosecutor job in his county – have been disbarred by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The state’s high court also suspended an additional dozen other attorneys for a range of alleged rules violations, as part of the most recent announcement of attorney disciplinary actions doled out by the court.

Illinois State Supreme Court Justices
Illinois State Supreme Court Justices

Among those disbarred was attorney Anthony Bergamino Jr., of Chicago. According to the announcement from the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, Bergamino was disbarred in connection with a sexual assault he was convicted of committing against a young woman in a hotel room.

According to published reports, Bergamino in 2012 entered a hotel room on Chicago’s Gold Coast without permission and then sexually assaulted a young Minnesota woman. According to the reports, he attempted to destroy evidence that could link him to the rape by rubbing lip balm on his hands shortly after being taken into police custody.

Bergamino was sentenced to six years in prison in 2014. He had also been suspended on an interim basis at that time.

Also disbarred by the state high court was attorney Brian Dennis Hunter, of Biggsville, in downstate Henderson County, west of Galesburg. According to the disciplinary action release from the Illinois ARDC, Hunter had served as an assistant state’s attorney in Hancock County, west of Macomb and about 60 miles south of Biggsville. However, when it became apparent he would not be promoted to serve as Hancock County’s state’s attorney following the death of then-State’s Attorney James Drozdz, the ARDC reported Hunter “deleted files, trial material and other information” stored on Hancock County computers. Hunter pleaded guilty to computer tampering.

Also disbarred were:

-         John W. Pleta, of Mokena. He was disbarred on consent after allegedly spending all but $10,000 of a client’s $1.2 million, the ARDC said. He had been suspended on an interim basis since January 2016.

-         Thomas M. Henry, of Peoria. He was disbarred on consent after allegedly misappropriating $144,000 after serving as attorney and executor of an estate, the ARDC said.

-         Maurice W. Birt, of Northbrook, was disbarred after he “intentionally misappropriated $80,000 belonging to an elderly woman who entrusted her funds to him,” the ARDC said, and misled his law partner about the money.

-         Willard F. Brestal, of Fort Myers, Fla, was disbarred on consent after he allegedly used credit cards and payroll money of the firm, where he served as president and director, to pay for “hundreds of thousands of dollars” of “personal expenditures, including payments relating to his Florida condominium and country club dues, the ARDC said.

-         Jeffrey J. Budzik, of Coral Gables, Fla., was disbarred on consent after he pleaded guilty in federal court to bank fraud, “admitting that he and others knowingly participated in a scheme to defraud financial institutions, including AmTrust Bank, Bank of America, First Tennessee Bank, JP Morgan Chase Bank and Wells Fargo,” the ARDC said.

-         Scott A. Hassebrock, of Mascoutah, was disbarred on consent. He pleaded guilty to charges related to the delivery of marijuana, the ARDC said.

-         Robert L. Stone, of Chicago, was disbarred as reciprocal discipline, after he resigned in lieu of discipline from the state of Hawaii over allegations he failed to tell that state’s Board of Bar Examiners about “several ongoing investigations and litigation against a former colleague.” 

The Illinois Supreme Court also suspended 12 others, including:

-         Adelqui J. Boue, of Houston, Texas, suspended for two years as reciprocal discipline for a similar suspension in Texas. In Illinois, the suspension will be stayed in favor of a two-year probation, retroactive to March 1, 2015, subject to conditions imposed in Texas. Boue allegedly sent a letter containing false information and signatures to a lender in a client’s real estate matter, the ARDC said.

-         Stephen J. McMullen, of Chicago, suspended two years and until further order of the court, with the suspension stayed by a two-year conditional probation, after he was convicted of felony aggravated DUI, the ARDC said.

-         George E. Faber, of West Dundee, one year and until further order of the court, after allegedly investing $10,000 of client money in a personal account, and using that account to trade stocks and use the money to “satisfy personal financial obligations,” the ARDC said.

-         Gary N. Foley, of Round Lake Beach, one year and until he completes the terms of his supervised release in the federal criminal case for wire fraud in relation to a real estate deal involving his wife, the ARDC said.

-         Gene D. Grimes, of Waukegan, one year and until further order of the court, with the suspension stayed after 45 days by a two-year conditional probation, after misleading clients in cases involving divorce and breach of contract, the ARDC said.

-         Mark D. Johnson, of Bloomington, one year, for allegedly helping a client improperly remove items from another person’s property, and telling local police and prosecutors he had a right to do so, the ARDC said.

-         Rostyslav Saciuk, of Palatine, one year, for allegedly taking $23,000 in client and third-party funds for himself.

-         Frank A. Santilli, of Chicago, suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the court, after he allegedly “knowingly misappropriated over $500,000 in client settlement funds and signed a medical lienholder’s signature to three settlement checks without authority,” according to the ARDC.

-         Joseph P. Harris, of Forest Park, six months.

-         Darren A. Fish, of Chicago, six months.

-         Nancy C. Murphy, of River Forest, six months.

-         Karen Walin, of Berwyn, 60 days. 

Attorneys Anthony P. Gilbreth, of Columbia, and Phyllis Malinski, of Miami, Fla., were each censured by the court.

The disciplinary actions were announced by the Illinois Supreme Court in May.



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