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IL Sup Ct disbars 4, including Crystal Lake lawyer who threatened ARDC atty; ex-Dolton village atty among 5 suspended

State Court

By The Cook County Record | Nov 27, 2019

Illinois supreme court
Illinois Supreme Court

A former Crystal Lake lawyer, who had been sentenced to jail for threatening an attorney for Illinois’ attorney regulatory body while he was already on probation for DUI, resisting arrest and possessing numerous firearms while his firearms identification card was revoked, is among four lawyers disbarred by the Illinois Supreme Court in November.

At the same time, the state’s high court also suspended five other attorneys, including the former attorney for the village of Dolton, who was convicted of failing to file federal income tax returns.

The disciplinary actions were reported in an announcement from the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, as part of the most recent round of state disciplinary actions against lawyers in Illinois.

Among those prohibited from practicing law in Illinois was Donald F. Franz, of Crystal Lake.

According to a report published by the Northwest Herald, Franz, 52, was sentenced in August to 60 days in jail, to be followed with probation until June 2020, for allegedly leaving threatening and harassing phone messages for an attorney with the ARDC.

Prosecutors said Franz left messages for the ARDC officer that were “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy or indecent with intent to offend.” Among other messages, prosecutors said Franz left a voicemail that said, “You destroyed me, you filthy Democrat. Burn in hell. You started this fight, but I’m finishing it. I’m coming after you,” according to the Northwest Herald.

At the time of the telephone harassment conviction, Franz was already serving two years probation for allegedly resisting arrest during a 2017 traffic stop for driving under the influence of alcohol. A subsequent search of his home revealed he was illegally in possession of numerous firearms, the Northwest Herald reported.

Franz had practiced law in McHenry County courts for more than 20 years.

Franz is the son of the late former McHenry County Judge James Franz.

Franz’s law license had been suspended before the Illinois Supreme Court disbarred him.

Others disbarred by the state high court included:

William K. Bulmer II, of Minneapolis. Bulmer allegedly engaged in sex acts with the wife of a client, and then allegedly denied the actions when questioned by a prosecutor in that client’s criminal case;

John T. Dzialo, of Fullerton, Calif. Dzialo was disbarred in California for allegedly misappropriating $7,475, for not returning a client’s files and then not responding to disciplinary charges. The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred him as reciprocal discipline; and

Bruce J. Tackowiak, of Los Angeles. Tackowiak was disbarred in California for allegedly misappropriating $6,645, “failing to providing competent representation,” and not responding to disciplinary charges. The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred him as reciprocal discipline.

The Illinois Supreme Court also suspended and otherwise disciplined seven other attorneys.

Among those suspended was Evangeline Levison, of Chicago. Levison, who had worked as the village attorney in suburban Dolton, was convicted of willful failure to file federal tax returns. Levison was suspended for three years and until she paid her unpaid tax bills.

Also suspended and disciplined were:

Robert C. Thomas, of Woodridge. Thomas had been convicted of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol and of criminal contempt for appearing in court while intoxicated. Thomas was suspended for two years.

Paul C. Gibbons, of Dover, Mass. Gibbons was suspended for 18 months in Massachusetts for allegedly “making false assertions in pleadings filed in federal court.” Gibbons had also been suspended from practicing law before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for 18 months, effective Dec. 10.

Christopher C. Anderson, of Naperville. Anderson confessed to overbilling clients while he worked at the firms of Kirkland & Ellis and Neal Gerber & Eisenberg. According to a report published by Law.com, the inflated billings at Neal Gerber & Eisenberg alone affected at least 100 clients, and cost that firm more than $150,000 in refunds and credits to clients Anderson had represented. Anderson was suspended for one year.

Dale E. Gerecke, of Cape Girardeau, Mo. Gerecke was suspended in Missouri for six months, allegedly for misappropriating $4,900 in client funds. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed a six month suspension as reciprocal discipline.

Joshua S. Reeves, of Mt. Vernon. Reeves allegedly asked a client to provide him with nude photos or sex acts in exchange for reduced legal fees. The client did not grant the request, and Reeves was suspended 30 days and until further order of the court, with the suspension stayed by three years of probation with conditions.

Robert H. Domico, of Las Vegas. Domico was suspended for six months in Nevada, with the suspension stayed by a two-year probation, after allegedly serving as a client’s real estate agent, while also representing the client in legal matters, which is a conflict of interest. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline, with a two-year probation and reprimand.

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Illinois Supreme CourtIllinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission

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