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Illinois Supreme Court disbars 9, suspends 16 in latest disciplinary filing

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on May 18, 2016, during the May Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

DISBARRED

  • Anthony Bergamino, Jr., Chicago

Mr. Bergamino, who was licensed in 1988, was disbarred on consent. He was found guilty in state court of criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse. He entered a young woman’s hotel room without permission, proceeded to push the victim down on the bed, forcibly held her down, and then assaulted her. He did not know the victim. He was suspended on an interim basis on June 10, 2014.

  • Maurice W. Birt, III, Northbrook

Mr. Birt, who was licensed in 1999, was disbarred. He intentionally misappropriated $80,000 belonging to an elderly woman who entrusted her funds to him. He also misled his law partner about his handling of the woman’s funds by telling his partner that he had invested the funds for the woman.

  • William Francis Brestal, Fort Myers, Fla.

Mr. Brestal, who was licensed in 1968, was disbarred on consent. While he was the president and director of a law firm, he used the firm’s credit card and payroll account to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of law firm assets on personal expenditures, including payments relating to his Florida condominium and country club dues. He concealed his conduct from his then-partners by withholding access to the firm’s records and by providing them with inaccurate information about its financial condition.

  • Jeffrey J. Budzik, Coral Gables, Fla. 

Mr. Budzik, who was licensed in 2005, was disbarred on consent. He pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to the offense of bank fraud, admitting that he and others knowingly participated in a scheme to defraud financial institutions, including AmTrust Bank, Bank of America, First Tennessee Bank, JP Morgan Chase Bank, and Wells Fargo.

  • Scott Alan Hassebrock, Mascoutah

Mr. Hassebrock, who was licensed in 1991, was disbarred on consent. He pled guilty to unlawful possession with intent to deliver between 2,000 and 5,000 grams of cannabis, unlawful delivery of cannabis, and violations of an order of protection.

  • Thomas Mitchel Henry, Peoria

Mr. Henry, who was licensed in 1978, was disbarred on consent. He misappropriated approximately $144,000 from an estate while serving as both attorney and executor of the estate.

  • Brian Dennis Hunter, Biggsville

Mr. Hunter, who was licensed in 2007, was disbarred on consent. While serving as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Hancock County, he deleted files, trial material and other information that was stored on the State’s Attorney’s office computers. He engaged in those acts after he learned that the Hancock County Board did not appoint him to succeed James M. Drozdz, who recently had died, as State's Attorney for Hancock County. Mr. Hunter pled guilty to the crime of computer tampering as a result of his actions.

  • John William Pleta, Mokena

Mr. Pleta, who was licensed in 1987, was disbarred on consent. He misappropriated more than $1.2 million of client funds. He then lied to his client by telling the client that the funds remained in his trust account when, in fact, he had already spent all but about $10,000 of the funds for his own business or personal purposes. He was suspended on an interim basis on January 19, 2016.

  • Robert Lee Stone, Chicago

Mr. Stone was licensed in Illinois in 1982 and in Hawai‘i in 2013. The Supreme Court of Hawai‘i allowed him to resign in lieu of discipline for failing to disclose to that state’s Board of Bar Examiners several ongoing investigations and litigation against a former colleague. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

 

SUSPENDED

  • Adelqui Jesus Boue, Houston, Texas

Mr. Boue was licensed in Illinois in 1996 and in Texas in 2008. He was suspended in Texas for two years, with the suspension fully stayed by a two-year period of conditional probation. In connection with a client’s real estate matter, he sent a letter containing misrepresentations and false signatures to a lender in an effort to obtain a loan payoff amount. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and entered an order suspending him for two years, with the suspension fully stayed in favor of a two-year period of conditional probation, retroactive to March 1, 2015, subject to the conditions imposed in Texas and until his period of probation in Texas is successfully completed.

  • Edward Dorsey, Carbondale

Mr. Dorsey, who was licensed in 1993, was suspended for 18 months. He converted funds owed to client medical providers and also endorsed a settlement check with the signature of a medical provider without that provider’s permission. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2016.

  • George Ernest Faber, West Dundee

Mr. Faber, who was licensed in 1964, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. He violated a court order to place $10,000 in a trust account for the benefit of clients by placing the money into a personal investment account opened in his own name. He then used the investment account to trade stocks and earn money to satisfy his personal financial obligations. He also failed to reduce a contingent fee agreement to writing.

  • Darren Anthony Fish, Chicago

Mr. Fish, who was licensed in 2006, was suspended for six months and until he successfully completes the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. While operating a firm concentrating in mortgage foreclosure and mortgage loan modification matters, he commingled client funds with his own, divided legal fees with non-lawyers, and failed to keep clients informed about the status of their matters. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2016.

  • Gary N. Foley, Round Lake Beach

Mr. Foley, who was licensed in 1996, was suspended for one year and until he completes the terms of his supervised release in his federal criminal case. In order to help his then-spouse, he devised and participated in a plan to purchase his wife’s property through a purported short sale wherein he prepared the closing documents as attorney for both his wife, the seller, and then falsely concealed the source of the funds for the purchase of the home and the fact that he was the buyer. In response to a subsequent inquiry about the property from the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, he prepared an e-mail for use by one of the real estate brokers involved in the sale falsely reflecting the source of the earnest money funds for the purchase. As a result of his conduct, Mr. Foley was charged with, and pled guilty to, wire fraud affecting a financial institution. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2016.

  • Gene Douglas Grimes, Waukegan

Mr. Grimes, who was licensed in 1973, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after 45 days by a two-year period of probation with conditions. He did not file a petition for dissolution of marriage for one client, failed to timely file a breach of contract claim for another client, made misrepresentations to both clients about the status of their matters, and initially declined to cooperate with the ARDC investigation. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2016.

  • Joseph Preston Harris, Forest Park

Mr. Harris, who was licensed in 1965, was suspended for six months and until he makes certain restitution. He neglected four different client matters, failed to communicate with those clients, and did not refund an unearned fee of $2,000 to one of those clients.

  • Mark Douglas Johnson, Bloomington

Mr. Johnson, who was licensed in 1993, was suspended for one year and until he successfully completes the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. While representing a client in a criminal case, he assisted the client in engaging in the crimes of criminal trespass to real property, criminal trespass to residence, and theft, when they went to property owned by another person and removed various items. While doing so, he purposefully deceived the Warren County State’s Attorney, a Warren County Sherriff’s Deputy, and two members of the public into believing that he and his client had legal authority to enter the property and remove personal items. Months later, Mr. Johnson and his client returned to the property and Mr. Johnson again assisted his client in engaging in the crimes of criminal trespass to real property and theft. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2016.

  • G. Ronald Kesinger, Jacksonville

Mr. Kesinger, who was licensed in 1973, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. The suspension is effective on June 1, 2016. While representing an elderly widow in the probate of her late husband’s estate, Mr. Kesinger obtained a $26,000 loan from her without advising her that their interests in the transaction conflicted, that she could seek independent advice, and without obtaining her informed written consent to the transaction. In another matter, while he represented a couple against a bank in a mortgage foreclosure proceeding, he entered into an agreement with the bank to purchase his clients’ house, without the clients’ knowledge or consent. Finally, he made false statements to a bank concerning his liabilities in an application for a personal mortgage loan.

  • Stephen Jay McMullen, Chicago

Mr. McMullen, who was licensed in 1976, was suspended for two years and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed in its entirety by a two-year period of conditional probation. He was convicted of felony aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol and misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol.

  • Nancy J. Murphy, River Forest

Ms. Murphy, who was licensed in 1990, was suspended for six months. She represented a husband in a divorce and sought custody of the parties’ minor child for her client. When the husband and wife reconciled, Ms. Murphy engaged in a conflict of interest by representing the husband’s parents in their attempt to gain custody of the child. She also charged $8,000 in fees to another client’s credit card without authorization to do so. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2016.

  • Rostyslav Saciuk, Palatine

Mr. Saciuk, who was licensed in 2007, was suspended for one year and until he successfully completes the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. He converted approximately $23,000 in client and third-party funds while handling two personal injury cases. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2016.

  • Frank Anthony Santilli, Chicago

Mr. Santilli, who was licensed in 1989, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the court. According to charges pending against him before the Hearing Board, he knowingly  misappropriated over $500,000 in client settlement funds and signed a medical lienholder’s signature to three settlement checks without authority.

  • Karen Walin, Berwyn

Ms. Walin, who was licensed in 1986, was suspended for sixty days. She engaged in a conflict of interest by drafting a trust agreement for her client in which she was named a beneficiary. She also represented that same client in the sale of a townhouse to an employee of her firm, and prepared a purchase agreement and installment note under terms favorable to the employee. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2016.

  • James Gordon Walker, Bloomington

Mr. Walker, who was licensed in 1968, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. He made numerous statements which were false or which were made with reckless disregard as to their truth or falsity, about the qualifications and integrity of the three Illinois Appellate Court Justices. He made the statements in pleadings filed before the circuit and appellate courts in which he asserted that the Justices engaged were corrupt, engaged in criminal conduct, fabricated a circuit court order, had acted dishonestly, and had made intentional misrepresentations. The ARDC Hearing Board rejected Mr. Walker’s claims that his statements were true and that they were protected by the First Amendment.

  • David Paul Wiener, Chicago

Mr. Wiener, who was licensed in 1969, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. On September 21, 2015, the Supreme Court suspended him for one year and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed in its entirety by a two-year period of conditional probation. He did not take the necessary steps to pursue his clients’ interests in three criminal cases, did not adequately communicate with those clients, did not return $9,000 in unearned fees, and made a misrepresentation about the status of one of those matters. In addition, in another criminal case, he failed to communicate with his client and did not return $4,000 in unearned fees. Because he failed to avoid alcohol usage, and missed taking random alcohol screening tests, the Court revoked his probation.

CENSURED

  • Anthony Patrick Gilbreth, Columbia

Mr. Gilbreth, who was licensed in 2006, was censured. He failed to inform his opposing counsel and the court that his client had died in a pending civil case and then attempted to conceal his client’s death in an attempt to settle the case.

  • Phyllis Malinski, Miami, Fla.

Ms. Malinski was licensed in Illinois in 1983 and in Florida in 1985. A grievance committee of the Supreme Court of Florida administered an admonishment to her for failing to obtain the permission of clients before representing them in place of her brother, a disbarred attorney.  The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and censured her.

RETIREMENT STATUS

  • Stanley Anthony Walton, III

The petition by Stanley Anthony Walton, III to be placed on permanent retirement status pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 756(a)(8) is allowed, effective immediately.

REMOVED FROM ATTORNEY ROLL

  • Anthony Bergamino Jr.

The motion by Anthony Bergamino Jr. to strike his name from the roll of attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(a) is allowed, effective immediately.

  • Willard Francis Brestal

The motion by Willard Francis Brestal to strike his name from the roll of attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(a) is allowed, effective immediately.

  • Jeffrey J. Budzik

The motion by Jeffrey J. Budzik to strike his name from the roll of attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(a) is allowed, effective immediately.

  • Scott Alan Hassebrock

The motion by Scott Alan Hassebrock to strike his name from the roll of attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(a) is allowed, effective immediately.

  • Thomas Mitchel Henry

The motion by Thomas Mitchel Henry to strike his name from the roll of attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(a) is allowed, effective immediately.

  • Brian Dennis Hunter

The motion by Brian Dennis Hunter to strike his name from the roll of attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(a) is allowed, effective immediately.

  • John William Pleta

The motion by John William Pleta to strike his name from the roll of attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(a) is allowed, effective immediately.

Posted on May 19, 2016 by Chris Bonjean | Comments (10)
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Member Comments

It would be more useful for us to know that conduct that caused the discipline than the names of the individuals disciplined.
You can always look up the named party on the ARDC website and read the Complaint and subsequent orders. Just an FYI.
I agree.
Also, the date admitted to the bar for identification purposes.
I agree with Mark and Sally. Knowing what conduct resulted in the discipline is instructive to all of us

Mary, the report has been updated to include the additional information you are looking for.

Thanks,

Chris

If you are interested, the specifics of why a person was censured or suspended should be available on their public records, accessible via iardc.org.
Agreed. This report is useless.

The initial report was pulled from the ARDC website. This report has now been updated with additional information from the ARDC press release. Sorry for the confusion. 

Thanks for the updated report.

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