A former attorney for the state who once volunteered for the campaigns of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley could face suspension if the state high court agrees with the recent recommendation of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Hearing Board.
In its April 10 recommendation and report, a panel of the ARDC Hearing Board found Corey Michael Novick had engaged in misconduct when he knowingly misrepresented his employment history to the State of Illinois on a job application by fabricating previous employment and salary history.
The commission lodged its complaint against Novick in 2012, accusing him of falsely stating he worked for Codevco Limited Partnership and providing fraudulent proof of that employment by having his father, a senior member in the company, draft a letter saying he had worked there.
The Hearing Board recommended a 60-day suspension for Novick, who is listed as an attorney with C Michael Novick LLC in Chicago on the ARDC website. The Illinois Supreme Court, however, has the final say in disciplining attorneys and either party could file exceptions to the recently-released report.
According to the board's report, Novick submitted the fabricated letter when he was asked to verify his previous salary in his application for a job at the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services.
The report states that Novick was unemployed after leaving the Cook County Circuit Clerk's Office following one year of work there, and began volunteering on Blagojevich's gubernatorial campaign.
Between September 2002 and March 2003, Novick performed volunteer work for Resolute Consulting, a firm that did campaign work for the campaigns of both Blagojevich and Daley.
He also volunteered in governor's office, during which time the report notes he asked one of his supervisors for assistance in finding a state job.
Before the Hearing Board, Novick said it was his understanding that his supervisors were "helping those individuals who worked on the gubernatorial campaign obtain State employment."
Novick, according to the report, asked for a job with a salary between $90,000 and $100,000 and was later instructed to remove any references of his work with the Governor's Office.
It was then, on the second application he provided, that Novick stated he had most recently worked for Codevco.
"In the April 27 [job application form, Novick] stated he was legal counsel for Codevco from March 2003 to the 'present,' worked 40 hours per week, and received $800 per week," the report states.
"However," it adds, "[Novick] admitted these statements were false. He was never an attorney for Codevco, never received a salary from Codevco, did not work 40 hours per week for Codevco, and was never an employee of Codevco."
In 2003, the report states, Novick received a four-year position as an attorney for DCFS at a salary of $85,000, a position that required him to be a lawyer and which, according to testimony, did not previously exist and was adjusted to accommodate his salary requests.
According to the Hearing Board panel, state employees are normally not allowed to receive a salary that is more than 10 percent greater than their previous salary without applying for an exception.
In attempting to circumvent that rule, the board found that Novick again misstated his employment history, and did so once more in 2007, when he sought to be rehired for another term with DCFS.
Ultimately, Novick was not rehired and he filed suit against the governor's office in federal court seeking reinstatement. That matter, according to the panel's report, concluded in 2012 when the court granted the state's motion for summary judgment.
The ARDC Hearing Board noted that it received evidence pointing toward favoritism in the state's hiring policies toward political campaign members like Novick, but that it didn't have bearing on the case.
"It is probably true that [Novick] would have obtained the position and higher salary at DCFS without the misrepresentations because of his campaign work and political associations," the board's report states.
It adds, "there was ample evidence showing that [Novick] performed his job well. However, whether Respondent could have gotten the job at DCFS without the false statements or whether Respondent's job performance could have justified his salary is not the issue."
The board explained the issue before it was whether Novick violated the Rules of Professional Conduct and "we find by clear and convincing evidence that he did."
The ARDC Hearing Board panel in Novick's matter consisted of William E. Hornsby, Jr., Andrea D. Flynn and Audrey Hauser. Gina M. Abbatemarco appeared on behalf of the ARDC and Mitchell B. Katten and Daniel Konicek represented Novick before the board.