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
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
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
The Illinois Supreme Court also suspended 12 others,
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
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
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.