A lawyer who was accused of mishandling about $700,000 in client funds has been disbarred, along with two others, according to the latest round of attorney disciplinary actions announced by the Illinois Supreme Court.
On Jan. 12, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, which handles complaints against the state’s tens of thousands of attorneys, said the state high court had also suspended five other lawyers, including a lawyer accused of representing the city of Berwyn when she was not properly registered with the court to practice law.
Three others were censured by the court, the IARDC said.
The court ordered Kanuru disbarred over accusations he personally used hundreds of thousands of dollars that had been paid to settle various workers compensation claims for clients.
In these instances, Kanuru received the settlement payments, with the understanding he would hold them, to be drawn upon by his clients at later dates. According to charges authorized by the IARDC, Kanuru received payments of $387,000 on behalf of one client and $300,000 on behalf of another, depositing them in his own checking accounts. The charges said Kanuru distributed some of the funds to his clients.
However, when the clients sought the remainder of their money, the IARDC alleged Kanuru had allowed balances in his accounts to fall to around $300, costing his clients $381,000 and $206,000, respectively.
Further, the charges alleged, Kanuru tricked another lawyer into paying him $5,400 in rent, when the other lawyer should not have.
Also on Jan. 12, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered attorneys Mary Katherine Burgess and Jay E. Presser disbarred.
Presser was accused by the IARDC of funneling $132,000 from a client’s real estate closing to his firm, allegedly including $64,500 “to cover fees owed to the firm by other clients.”
Burgess allegedly misappropriated $32,000 in funds from a client’s personal injury settlement, using much of the money “for her own business and personal purposes,” according to the IARDC charges.
While disbarring those three, the high court also suspended five lawyers.
Among those was Marcia Lynn Cohen, of Chicago, who was suspended for 30 days. According to the IARDC release, Cohen, who serves as the Director of Administrative Hearings for the city of Berwyn, had failed to properly register with the state from 2013-2017. She had been removed from the state’s Master Roll of Attorneys in March 2013. Yet in the years since, the IARDC said, Cohen “has represented the city of Berwyn in approximately 100 different municipal ordinance proceedings before a hearing officer.” The IARDC charges indicated Cohen “has expressed remorse for her misconduct.”
Other suspended include: Jess E. Forrest, of Chicago, who was suspended for one year and until further order of the court, for allegedly misappropriating $25,922 in escrowed funds;
Alan L. Meserow, of Chicago, six months and until further order of the court, with the suspension stayed by a one-year probation period, for allegedly shouting at a judge during a court proceeding, and later filing “a frivolous motion criticizing the same judge and falsely (accusing) her of violating several provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct;”
Syed M. Khan, of Schaumburg, six months and until further order of the court, after he was accused of allegedly neglecting two clients and not refunding fees or $1,839 in allegedly misappropriated funds; and
William S. Bazianos, of Chicago, six months effective Feb. 2, after he allegedly “converted $6,935 he had agreed to hold in escrow in connection with a client’s real estate transaction,” according to the IARDC release.
The court also censured attorneys Manuel A. Cardenas, of Chicago; Steven H. Mora, of Chicago; and Stanley E. Niew, of Oak Brook.