Seven lawyers disbarred, 10 others suspended by Illinois Supreme Court in January

By Cook County Record | Feb 1, 2019

The Illinois Supreme Court has disbarred seven lawyers, including a former McHenry County prosecutor convicted of stealing more than $21,000 from the law firm that employed her.

The state high court also suspended 10 other attorneys across the state, including a lawyer with an office in Palos Heights the court said had wrongly led clients to believe he was licensed to practice in the state, including clients he had represented in legal actions in Chicago federal court.

In late January, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission announced the orders from the state Supreme Court, as part of the most recent round of attorney disciplinary actions in the state.

Among those disbarred was Robin Lynn Perry, a lawyer from Spring Grove in northern McHenry County. According to the ARDC and reports published elsewhere, 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 nearly $22,000 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 state Supreme Court also disbarred attorney Soo Hyun Jung. The lawyer, who also goes by the name of Jay Jung, pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud and one count of false claims to the Internal Revenue Service. According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Jung, of Coralville, Iowa, represented clients as an attorney and tax preparer.

The release said Jung steered certain clients’ federal income tax refunds to himself, and allegedly forged endorsements on the checks to deposit them in his personal account. The release said he used some of the money to purchase a 2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe.

The Justice Department also accused Jung of cashing out a client’s investment fund and depositing $200,000 from the fund in his own account.

According to published news reports, Jung was sentenced to 38 months in prison.

Additionally, the Illinois Supreme Court disbarred:

  • Brian M. Fornek, of St. Charles. The ARDC release said Fornek “misappropriated” $66,000 in settlement funds that were supposed to be held in a trust account;
  • Bianca C. Lee, of Chicago. The ARDC release said Lee “neglected six different civil matters for clients (and) failed to refund unearned fees.”
  • Kiflom Tekie Meles, of Silver Spring, Md. The ARDC release said Meles was disbarred in the District of Columbia for failing to inform a client of a settlement offer and taking $2,800 of settlement funds in one matter, and not refunding $1,500 in fees in another matter after he “failed to provide competent representation to the client.” The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred him as reciprocal discipline.
  • Ralph F. Tellefsen III, of Elmhurst. According to the ARDC release, Tellefsen was convicted in DuPage County of possession of child pornography. He had been suspended since March 2018.
  • Scott A. Spencer, of New York City. According to the ARDC release, Spencer had been disbarred in New York for “failing to cooperate with New York disciplinary authorities.” The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred him as reciprocal discipline.
The state high court also suspended 10 other lawyers in January, according to the ARDC.

Attorney Maurice James Salem, whose address is listed as Palos Heights, was suspended for 90 days and until further order of the court. According to the release, Salem is licensed to practice law in New York, but has never been licensed in Illinois. Nonetheless, the release says, Salem has maintained an office in Cook County for years.

Salem has also represented clients in federal court in Chicago, including in a lawsuit brought against the city of Chicago by African American owners of a waste hauling company, who accused the city of discrimination, and in a lawsuit brought man who claimed the Law School Admissions Council discriminated against him by refusing to grant him an accommodation for Attention Deficit Disorder when administering his law school entrance tests.

In that case, the LSAC also accused Salem of attempting to “perpetrate a fraud” by allegedly submitting fake documents as evidence of his client’s alleged disability.  

Also suspended were:

  • Tyrone Davis, of Chicago. Davis was suspended for three years and until further order of the court. According to the ARDC release, Davis “neglected three different client matters, failed to communicate with a client, (and) did not return unearned fees on four client matters.”
  • John G. Steckel, of Rock Island, 18 months and until further order of the court. According to the ARDC, Steckel “neglected family law matters of three clients and did not return the unearned portions of two clients’ security retainers after they discharged him.”
  • Jeffrey W. Deer, of Chicago, 15 months, effective Feb. 19. According to the ARDC, Deer took $14,000 from clients which had been intended to pay a judgment.
  • Roy A. Ekstrand, of Costa Mesa, Calif., one year. According to the ARDC, Ekstrand had been suspended in California, and the Illinois Supreme Court suspended him as reciprocal discipline. According to the ARDC, Ekstrand was accused of bouncing checks written to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on behalf of clients.
  • Matthew S. Jones, of Austin, Texas, one year, with suspension stayed for one year of probation, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2016.
  • Michael G. Conrad, of Des Plaines, six months with suspension stayed by a one-year conditional probation.
  • Robert V. Schaller, of Hinsdale, six months, effective Feb. 19.
  • Colin F. Carr, of Chicago, three months and until further order of the court.
  • Paula R. Weisberg, of Chicago, 30 days and until making restitution for unrefunded client fees in child support matters.
The Illinois Supreme Court also censured Andrew M. Carter, of Wheaton, and reprimanded Philip J. Nathanson, of Chicago, who had been similarly reprimanded in Arizona.

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Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Illinois Supreme Court

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