The Illinois Supreme Court has disbarred three lawyers, including a criminal defense attorney sentenced to 30 months in prison for not paying nearly $1 million in federal taxes, and suspended nine others, including a former McHenry County prosecutor convicted of stealing more than $21,000 from the law firm that employed her.
This month, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission announced the orders from the state high court, as part of the most recent round of attorney disciplinary actions in the state.
Among those disbarred was Michael L. Thiel, a Louisiana lawyer also licensed to practice law in Chicago. According to the ARDC announcement, Thiel had been first disbarred in Louisiana after a federal judge sentenced him to 30 months in prison in 2017 after he pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion. According to a release from the U.S. Justice Department, Thiel failed to file income and employment tax returns and did not make nearly $1 million in tax payments he purportedly owed, including interest and penalties, from 2003-2013.
According to the Justice Department, Thiel “concealed his income and assets using trusts” he set up in his family’s names, including using “nominees to purchase his family residence for $435,000” and using “a phony lease agreement with the nominees to conceal his ownership of the property and shield it from IRS collection efforts.”
Following the Louisiana high court’s decision to disbar him, the Illinois state Supreme Court also disbarred Thiel as reciprocal discipline.
At the same time, the Illinois Supreme Court also disbarred two other lawyers, identified as Jerold W. Barringer, of Nokomis, and Thomas C. Croft, of St. Louis, Mo.
According to the ARDC release, Barringer represented a client in an eminent domain case while his license was suspended and also did not return $1,500 in legal fees paid by that client.
The ARDC said Croft was disbarred in Missouri “for failing to diligently represent a criminal defendant after being appointed counsel” and did not “diligently represent” clients in estate planning matters. The ARDC said he also refused to respond to demands for information from Missouri regulators. The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred him as reciprocal discipline, the ARDC release said.
In addition to the disbarments, the state high court also suspended nine other lawyers.
Among those was Robin L. Perry, of Spring Grove, who was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the court. According to the ARDC release and other published reports, Perry, an ex-McHenry County assistant state’s attorney, pleaded guilty to felony theft charges after her employer, the Law Offices of Rupp & Youman, turned up evidence she had taken more than $21,000 from the firm. She had worked for the firm for less than a year, reports said.
Perry was sentenced in April 2017 to three years of conditional discharge, according to a report published in the Northwest Herald, and was ordered to repay the firm the full amount stolen.
The Illinois Supreme Court also suspended attorney Elena Gallo, of Chicago, on an interim basis and until further order of the court. The ARDC said she was charged with “misappropriating more than $18,000 of client funds, while also improperly raising her clients’ fees three times in three real estate transactions, and misleading the clients and her firm about the fees.
Also suspended were:
- Laouida Glover, of Steger, one year and until further order of the court, for allegedly violating the conditions of an earlier disciplinary probation;
- Adebayo O. Adesina, of Chicago, one year for allegedly converting “more than $11,000 he was holding in connection with two personal injury matters,” while misleading at least one client regarding the funds;
- Robert K. Gray, of Springfield, one year, for allegedly failing to comply with court orders while handling his own divorce case, and representing two villages, even though he was not authorized to practice law in Illinois at the time;
- Michael R. Graf, of Arlington Heights, 5 months, for allegedly failing to file on time a medical malpractice and wrongful death suit for his clients and telling his clients he had performed certain tasks connected with the lawsuit, when he had not;
- Kelly Jo Smith, of Greenwood, Ind., 90 days, reciprocal discipline from the state of Indiana for second conviction for operating a vehicle while intoxicated;
- Jessica R. Allen, of Palatine, 30 days; and
- Paul A. Silich, of Epworth, Iowa, 30 days, reciprocal discipline from the state of Iowa.
Attorneys Ralph J. Schindler Jr., of Chicago, and Rebecca S. Murray, of Oak Park, were censured, according to the ARDC.