An Oak Brook lawyer convicted of bank fraud for allegedly providing legal cover to help a South Side real estate seller offload property onto buyers “who could not legitimately qualify for mortgage loans” and to help a South Loop condo developer sell unsold units to straw buyers, was among 13 attorneys disbarred in September by the Illinois Supreme Court.
The state high court also suspended 16 other attorneys for a range of rules violations, as part of the most recent round of lawyer disciplinary actions.
Among those disbarred was attorney Robert D. Lattas, of Oak Brook. According to reports filed by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, Lattas participated in an alleged scheme with a property seller identified as Steven Bartlett, and a purported co-conspirator, identified as Nicholas Burge, to fraudulently qualify people to buy properties Bartlett was selling on Chicago’s South Side.
According to the report, Lattas knowingly signed his name to mortgage loan applications “containing false information … to qualify the otherwise unqualified buyers for mortgage loans.” The false documents allegedly included loan applications and HUD-1 statements. Lattas also allegedly served as Bartlett’s attorney and structured the transactions to hide from lenders the truth “about money being paid to the individuals who provided the down payments, and recruiting the buyers.”
Lattas and his alleged co-conspirators were indicted in connection with the scheme and found guilty on five counts, including wire and mail fraud, in October 2015.
Lattas was also convicted of bank fraud in a separate scheme, with co-defendans identified as Warren N. Barr III and Leonardo V. Sanders. In this case, Lattas admitted in a guilty plea that he had been recruited by Barr to help a business developing and selling condominiums in the South Loop facilitate and then conceal from banks the sale of condo units to straw buyers.
Also disbarred was attorney Robert C. Beck, of Wheaton. According to an ARDC report, Beck was accused of taking money without authorization from three elderly clients, including some with dementia, totaling about $889,000. The report said Beck “took funds repeatedly and over time,” creating “an extensive pattern of misconduct.”
The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred 11 other attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois, including:
- Joel S. Alpert, of Buffalo Grove, who was accused by the ARDC of practicing law while under suspension and fabricating court documents “to mislead his client into believing that she was represented by a law firm not involved in the matter;”
- Bradley F. Aubel, of Libertyville, who was convicted in federal court of obstruction of justice and filing a false income tax return;
- Dwight L. Beck, of Ford Heights, who was accused of converting $1,800 in client settlement funds and was convicted twice of driving while his license was suspended;
- Seth Gillman, of Chicago, co-owner of Passages Hospice LLC, who pleaded guilty to charges of health care fraud after he was accused of submitting allegedly fraudulent bills to Medicare and Medicaid;
- Reid D. Henderson, of Washington D.C., who was disbarred on a reciprocal basis, after the D.C. Court of Appeals disbarred him after he allegedly “neglected six client matters, … made false statements to clients and misappropriated fees paid in advance;”
- Gary E. Kovall, of Ely, Minn., who was convicted in California of conspiring to bribe a “Native American tribal government” in connection with an alleged kickback scheme;
- Ronald L. McPheron, of Chicago, who was accused of settling a personal injury case without the client’s authorization and taking $11,737 of the settlement for himself;
- Kevin D. Posch, of Jackson, Mo., who was convicted in Missouri of endangering the welfare of a child;
- Frank A. Santilli, of Chicago, who was accused of misappropriating more than $500,000 of client settlement funds and signing settlement checks without authorization;
- David J. Silberman, of Mequon, Wis., who was accused of transferring nearly $460,000 in escrow accounts to fund operations at his title insurance company;
- Dale R. Wiles, of Bethlehem, Pa., who pleaded guilty in Pennsylvania to conspiring to “steer a municipal contract to a law firm” and concealing records from a federal grand jury.
The Illinois Supreme Court also suspended 16 lawyers, including:
- Robert W. Gold-Smith, of Justice, suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the court, who was convicted in Will County of solicitation of murder for hire, even as he awaits trial on charges of aggravated domestic battery, aggravated battery and violating an order of protection;
- Richard C. Moenning, of Chicago, suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the court, after the ARDC found “he had engaged in multiple acts of misconduct in connection with his role as an attorney for, and trustee of, two trusts.” The ARDC recommended he be disbarred;
- Francis J. Coyle, of Rock Island, suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the court, after the ARDC found he had “misappropriated $100,000 in escrow funds.” The ARDC recommended he be disbarred;
- Htin Myat Win, of Springfield, for one year, after he, while working as an assistant Illinois attorney general, allegedly made a false statement to a federal judge and “created and back-dated a letter to support his false claim;”
- Robert A. Holstein, of Chicago, 18 months;
- James E. Taylor, of Chicago, one year, to be stayed after 60 days, with two years probation;
- Kevin S. Besetzny, of Chicago, for one year, to be stayed after 90 days, with an 18-month conditional probation;
- Jackson E. Donley, of Springfield, one year and until further order of the court;
- John C. Torjesen, of Los Angeles, one year, to be stayed after 30 days, with a two-year conditional probation;
- Jarvis E. Williams, of Houston, one year and until further order of the court;
- Vincent J. O’Brien, of Chicago, nine months, to be stayed after four months, with 12 months probation;
- Edward C. Abderholden, of Chicago, six months and until further order of the court;
- Larry S. Mayster, of Chicago, six months, to be stayed after 30 days, with six months of conditional probation;
- Timothy J. Coffey, of Naperville, 60 days and until further order of the court;
- Philip C. Gallagher, of Concord, Calif., 30 days; and
- Douglas A. Shenk, of Northbrook, 30 days.
The court also reprimanded attorneys Charles E. Boyle, of Chicago, and Mario J. Tarara, of Rockford, while censuring attorneys John K. Gaertner Jr., of Phoenix, Az., Robert A. Habib, of Chicago, and Peter A. Papoutsis, of Chicago.
The disciplinary actions were announced by the court Sept. 22.