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Illinois Supreme Court Disbars 15, Suspends 35, Reprimands 2, Censures 4 in Latest Disciplinary Filing

The Illinois Supreme Court announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on September 22, 2017. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

DISBARRED

  • James M. Allen, Dixon

Mr. Allen, who was licensed in 1967, was disbarred on consent. He was arrested in December of 2015 after causing an automobile collision on his way home from a bar. The driver of the other vehicle sustained permanent injuries as a result of the collision. Mr. Allen subsequently pled guilty to one count of aggravated DUI and was sentenced to 24 months of probation. Mr. Allen was the subject of two prior disciplinary proceedings, once of which arose from another aggravated DUI conviction.

  • Raymond Edward Clutts, Chicago

Mr. Clutts, who was licensed in 1984, was disbarred. He entered the home of his former spouse and his daughter while armed with a gun, and fired the gun in the direction of his former spouse. He was convicted of attempted home invasion and aggravated discharge of a firearm.

  • Shamim Esmail, Evanston

Mr. Emanuel was licensed in Illinois in 1996 and in Michigan in 1999. He was suspended in Michigan for 30 days after depositing a settlement check into his operating account, and drawing the balance below the amount claimed by his predecessor counsel as fees. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for 30 days. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Laurence Kallen, Chicago

Mr. Kallen, who was licensed in 1970, was disbarred on consent. While acting as the court- appointed judicial selling officer in foreclosure proceedings, Mr. Kallen engaged in dishonest conduct by misusing over $1.5 million in sale proceeds he held in escrow.

  • Ravi Kanwal, Denver, Colorado

Mr. Kanwal was licensed in Colorado in 1992 and in Illinois in 1994. The Supreme Court of Colorado disbarred him for preparing immigration documents for a former client after he had been suspended from practicing law, and for failing to inform his client that he was no longer authorized to practice law. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and entered an order disbarring him in Illinois.

  • Joseph Harold King, Jr., Aurora

Mr. King, who was licensed in 1980, was disbarred on consent. While representing clients in federal bankruptcy proceedings, he filed petitions without the required supporting documents, missed filing deadlines, and paid himself without authorization. As a result of Mr. King’s representation, several clients’ bankruptcy petitions were delayed or dismissed by the court, and monies paid by clients to the U.S. Treasury Department were deemed forfeited by statute.

  • Leslie Ann Klocek, Gurnee

Ms. Klocek, who was licensed in 1998, was disbarred. She drafted estate documents for an elderly client that made herself the trustee and beneficiary of two-thirds of approximately $1,000,000 of her client’s trust assets. Following the client’s death, Ms. Klocek spent more than $400,000 of trust assets before she could be removed as trustee.

  • Domenic Joseph Lupo, Chicago

Mr. Lupo, who was licensed in 1988, was disbarred on consent. Mr. Lupo pled guilty to federal charges of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit tax fraud. Along with Richard Gatto, a non- lawyer, Mr. Lupo conspired to conceal portions of Mr. Gatto’s income, depriving Mr. Gatto’s former wife of $826,695 in maintenance and child support payments, and causing a tax loss of approximately $250,000 to the United States.

  • William James Meacham, Edwardsville

Mr. Meacham, who was licensed in 1989, was disbarred for dishonestly misappropriating $32,083 in settlement funds, falsely denying under oath that he did not know what happened to the settlement funds, making false statements and creating false documents in connection with his disciplinary matter, failing to maintain trust account records, and failing to diligently represent two clients.

  • John Brewster Ohle, III, Northfield

Mr. Ohle was licensed in Louisiana in 1993 and in Illinois in 2003. He was permanently disbarred in Louisiana after he was convicted in federal court in New York of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit wire fraud, and tax evasion. He was sentenced to a 60- month prison term. He was also ordered to make restitution of $5,553,680.74. He created false invoices to generate referral fees on transactions related to a tax shelter that he marketed, sold and implemented. He concealed the receipt of those fees by failing to report, on his individual income tax returns, the referral fees, as well as funds he had embezzled from a client for whom he had acted as a trustee. He also failed to report approximately $6 million in personal income. He was suspended on an interim basis in Illinois on August 2, 2011. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

  • Delbert Keith Pruitt, Paducah, Kentucky

Mr. Pruitt, who was licensed in 2000, was disbarred. After he agreed to serve as an intermediary to receive $400 every month from his client’s ex-husband and disburse those payments to his client, he did not inform his client of many of the payments that he received for her, and he knowingly misappropriated $4,894 of the funds. He also failed to keep records of his client trust account. He did not participate in his disciplinary proceeding.

  • Dennis Hugh Sherman, Chicago

Mr. Sherman, who was licensed in 1969, was disbarred on consent. He converted $5,587.16 in client funds related to five of his clients’ criminal cases and their respective bond refunds, and failed to maintain complete records of his client trust account. The ARDC had sought a suspension for six months and until further order of the Court, but Mr. Sherman preferred to strike his name from the roll of attorneys.

  • Dirk L. Van Beek, Tinley Park

Mr. Van Beek, who was licensed in 1969, was disbarred on consent. In a scheme to obtain money to which he was not entitled, he filed weed cutting liens and lien releases on behalf of Cook County municipalities that he did not represent. A weed cutting lien is a procedure allowed by statute whereby a municipality may provide for the expense of cutting of weeds where the “owners of real estate refuse to do so or neglect to cut them." Mr. Van Beek received fees totaling approximately $20,000 for his role in the scheme.

  • Douglas Alan Willis, Oakbrook Terrace

Mr. Willis, who was licensed in 1988, was disbarred on consent. He knowingly possessed a camera, a video tape and other material that contained images of child pornography. As a result, he was convicted of two counts of possession of child pornography.

  • Sam Sameeh Zega, Burbank

Mr. Zegar, who was licensed in 1991, was disbarred on consent. He misappropriated more than $116,000 in client and third-party funds and improperly obtained a $20,000 loan from a client.

SUSPENDED

  • Anthony Rocco Allegra, Bensenville

Mr. Allegra, who was licensed in 2008, was suspended for 30 days. He aided a disbarred attorney in the unauthorized practice of law by permitting her to consult with him and to advise clients on a guardianship case and an estate planning matter. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Gerald Leroy Berlin, Evergreen Park

Mr. Berlin, who was licensed in 1984, was suspended for three years and until further order of the Court. While collecting rent payments for a commercial landlord, he misappropriated $79,270.94, and attempted to conceal his conduct by not listing certain funds in the accountings he gave to the landlord.

  • David Pickett Cutler, Chicago

Mr. Cutler, who was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1979, was suspended from the practice of law for five months. He converted $47,031 in client funds in two personal injury matters, failed to notify a client of his receipt of a settlement check, and failed to keep required trust account records for 22 months. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • D.G. Donovan, Ormond Beach, Florida

Mr. Donovan, who was licensed in 1980, was suspended for six months. While involved in a dispute with a condominium association, he sent an e-mail to the association president, threatening to hit an association board member on the head or legs with a crowbar, in an attempt to have the association president contact an upstairs unit owner to fix a purported leak that was affecting his deceased mother’s unit. He also made a false statement about having paid for groceries when questioned by a store manager who saw him place unpaid groceries into a grocery cart. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Leijuana Doss, Country Club Hills

Ms. Doss, who was licensed in 1989, was suspended for 18 months and until she provides proof of restitution to her client and successfully completes an ARDC Professionalism Seminar. She received $45,000 from the client for the purchase of a home but did not deposit the funds into a trust account, in order to avoid a currency transaction report to the federal government of a cash transaction exceeding $10,000. The real estate transaction did not proceed and Ms. Doss failed to return any of the money to her client for more than two years. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Brian Gordon Due, Chicago

Mr. Due, who was licensed in 1972, was suspended for one year and until further order of Court. He agreed to represent a client in an eviction matter and accepted a $1,500 fee. Although he filed a complaint of behalf of the client, he later failed to appear in court on more than six occasions, resulting in a dismissal of the case. Mr. Due failed to respond to inquiries from the client or to refund the unearned fee. He also failed to respond to ARDC inquiries and did not participate in his own disciplinary proceeding.

  • James Windsor Eason, St. Louis, Missouri

Mr. Eason was licensed in Illinois in 2003 and in Missouri in 2005. He was indefinitely suspended in Missouri, with the suspension entirely stayed in favor of a one-year period of probation, after he was convicted of third degree assault for pushing opposing counsel into a glass table during a deposition. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended Mr. Eason for six months and until further order of the Court, staying the suspension in its entirety by a one-year period of probation, nunc pro tunc to May 23, 2017, and until he completes his period of probation in the State of Missouri.

  • Michael David Elkin, Chicago

Mr. Elkin, who was licensed in 2005, was suspended for one year and until further order of the court conditioned upon proof of restitution. He accepted fees from three clients in divorce cases and one client charged with driving under the influence. He then neglected their matters, did not respond to his clients’ requests for information, did not refund unearned fees and, in one matter, made false statements to his client.

  • Lennox Emanuel, West Bloomfield, Michigan

Mr. Emanuel was licensed in Illinois in 1996 and in Michigan in 1999. He was suspended in Michigan for 30 days after depositing a settlement check into his operating account, and drawing the balance below the amount claimed by his predecessor counsel as fees. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for 30 days. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Donald Fredrick Franz, Crystal Lake

Mr. Franz, who was licensed in 1993, and removed from the master roll on March 10, 2017 for failing to register, was suspended for two years and until further order of the court. He required his client to sign a $10,000 promissory note as a condition of his continuing representation in a trial. He failed to reduce a contingency fee agreement to writing. He also left voicemail messages for the ARDC, counsel for the ARDC and a client, in which he threatened to inflict physical harm and to kill the Administrator and his attorney.

  • Christopher Donald Freeman, Chicago

Mr. Freeman, who was licensed in 2002, was suspended for two years and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after five months by a two-year period of probation. He misappropriated $43,028 from the workers’ compensation and injury settlements of nine clients over a period of seven months. In that time, he failed to keep records of his client trust account. When one client and a referring attorney in another client’s matter inquired about the settlements in their cases, Mr. Freeman falsely told them that he had not yet received the settlement funds in their matters. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Tara Lynn Grabarczyk, Monticello

Ms. Grabarczyk was licensed in California in 2001 and in Illinois in 2013. The Supreme Court of California entered an order suspending her for one year, and staying the suspension after 30 days in favor of a one-year period of probation, subject to conditions, for falsely reporting to the California State Bar that she was in compliance with that court’s minimum continuing legal education requirements. Before making that report, Ms. Grabarczyk had not reviewed her records to determine whether she was in compliance with those requirements. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and entered an order suspending her from the practice of law in Illinois for 30 days. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Tommie Atchley Harsley III, St. Louis, Missouri

Mr. Harsley was licensed in in Missouri in 1987 and in Illinois in 1988. He was indefinitely suspended in Missouri, with the suspension fully stayed by a two-year period of conditional probation, for commingling personal funds with client funds, failing to safeguard client property, failing to keep records of his client trust account, and not delivering client funds with reasonable promptness. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for one year and until further order of the Court, with the suspension fully stayed by a two-year period of probation, retroactive to September 22, 2015, and subject to the conditions of probation imposed in Missouri and until his Missouri probation is successfully concluded.

  • Robert Michael Kowalski, Chicago

Mr. Kowalski, who was licensed in 1990, was suspended for six months and until he completes an ARDC Professionalism Seminar. He misappropriated $2,500 in escrow money that he held in connection with a real estate sale. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Emma Lee Knowles, Chicago

Ms. Knowles, who was licensed in 2006, was suspended for 30 days. She converted $4,354.02 in funds belonging to five separate clients, by withdrawing from her client trust account substantial portions of security retainers that she had not earned. She accepted responsibility for her misconduct, and her clients did not suffer actual harm or complain to the ARDC about her conduct. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Allen A. Lefkovitz, Chicago

Mr. Lefkovitz, who was licensed in 1980, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. He converted $89,000 he had received in connection with two property tax refund matters for one client, by making distributions to other clients and himself before the corresponding deposits had been credited to the account. He had been previously disciplined for similar misconduct.

  • Debra Vorhies Levine, Chicago

Ms. Levine, who was licensed in 1997, was suspended for three years and until further order of the Court. She neglected twelve bankruptcy and domestic relations cases when she did not appear in court or file the appropriate pleadings on her clients’ behalf, she failed to respond to client inquiries, and kept $33,678 in unearned fees that she has not returned to her clients.

  • Theodore Edward Malpass, Newport Beach, California

Mr. Malpass was licensed in Illinois in 1982 and in California in 1984. The Supreme Court of California entered an order suspending him for two years, and staying the suspension after 90 days in favor of a three-year period of probation, subject to conditions, for improperly receiving $42,000 in fees to represent clients in a bankruptcy matter without obtaining the approval of the bankruptcy court, and for failing to follow a bankruptcy court order directing him to refund the fees to his clients. In addition, the Supreme Court of California entered an order suspending him for one year, and staying that suspension in its entirety in favor of a one-year period of probation, subject to conditions, for striking the face of a female acquaintance assisting him in clerical work, and for failing to report a resulting battery conviction to disciplinary authorities. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and entered an order suspending him from the practice of law in Illinois until he is reinstated to the practice of law in California, and, should he be reinstated to the practice of law in that state, suspending him for two years, with that suspension stayed after 90 days in favor of a three-year period of probation, nunc pro tunc to the date discipline was effective in California, subject to the conditions imposed by the Supreme Court of California and until the successful completion of the conditions imposed in California.

  • Jordan Eric Marsh, Glenview

Mr. Marsh, who was licensed in 1993, was suspended for ninety days. While employed at the City of Chicago’s Office of the Corporation Counsel, he defended the City and some of its police officers in various litigation matters. In one such matter, shortly before the case was set for trial, he learned that the City possessed recordings of police radio transmissions that had been requested but had not produced to the plaintiffs during the discovery process. Upon learning this additional material existed, Mr. Marsh failed to either obtain the information, advise plaintiffs’ counsel of its existence or notify the court of the newly-discovered materials. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Christopher Joseph McGeehan, Chicago

Mr. McGeehan, who was licensed in 2003, was suspended for 90 days and until he pays certain restitution, by way of discipline on consent. He was retained by a client to file design and utility patent applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Mr. McGeehan failed to file the patent applications, and subsequently commingled and converted client funds. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Baltazar Mendoza, Chicago

Ms. Mendoza, who was licensed in Illinois in 2001 and suspended on an interim basis on April 25, 2017, was disbarred on consent for misappropriating at least $225,106.25 in funds belonging to three separate clients, fabricating a document purporting to show that one client’s funds had been paid to a mortgage lender, and making misrepresentations to a client and neglecting that client’s legal matter.

  • Ronald Francis Michelotti, Chicago

Mr. Michelotti, who was licensed in 1965, was suspended for 90 days and until he pays the ARDC $3,566 in past-due registration and late fees for the period from 1995 through 2006. Since 1995, Mr. Michelotti had been removed from the roll of attorneys authorized to practice law in Illinois, based on his failure to register or pay the required registration fees to the ARDC. Despite his removal from the roll of attorneys, between 1995 and 2006, Mr. Michelotti earned over $60,000 while purporting to represent clients in at least 53 matters, mainly in the areas of real estate and trusts and estates. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Michael Jerome Moore, Chicago

Mr. Moore, who was licensed in 1986, was suspended for 60 days. He used demeaning, derogatory, threatening and racially offensive language in voice messages that he left for third parties. He also neglected a criminal appeal in Wisconsin by not filing complete pleadings and by not responding to orders of the court. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Vincent Leo Palmieri, Lake Bluff

Mr. Palmieri, who was licensed in 1975, was suspended for eighteen months. He converted $43,500 in earnest money in connection to a real estate matter and made misrepresentations about the status of the funds to his clients’ new counsel. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Thomas J. Popovich, McHenry

Mr. Popovich, who was licensed in 1990, was suspended for four months. In an effort to mislead his then-spouse about his law firm’s income, he distributed checks to clients and created entries in internal firm records that understated the amount the firm received as fees in two personal injury cases. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Jerold S. Rawson, Northbrook

Mr. Rawson, who was licensed in 1974, was suspended for nine months and until restitution including interest is made. He converted $2,984.11 in escrow funds in connection with a real estate transaction, and neglected a client’s mechanic’s lien case by repeatedly failing to appear in court. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Mark W. Rigazio, Morris

Mr. Rigazio, who was licensed in 1981, was suspended for 60 days, stayed in its entirety by a one year period of conditional probation. He knowingly authorized his bookkeeper to miscategorize another employee’s wages as expense reimbursement (which was not taxable) rather than income (which was taxable), and later directed his bookkeeper to do the same for two other employees, with the intent to hide a portion of the three employees’ wages so that no taxes were withheld on the falsely categorized portion of their wages.

  • Lee Salas, Plano, Texas

Mr. Salas was licensed in Illinois in 1984 and in Texas in 1986. A grievance committee for the Texas State Bar entered a judgment suspending him from the practice of law in Texas for six months, with the suspension fully probated for six months, subject to conditions, for failing to resolve his client's personal injury matter after the case had been settled for $50,000, failing to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of the case, and failing to promptly comply with his client's reasonable requests for information. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and entered an order suspending him from the practice of law in Illinois for six months, staying that suspension in its entirety in favor of a six-month period of probation, nunc pro tunc to the date probation commenced in Texas, and finding that the period of probation in Illinois had been satisfied by his completion of probation in Texas.

  • Fronse Wayne Smith Jr., Mishawaka, Indiana

Mr. Smith, who was licensed in 2015, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. He threatened to split his estranged wife’s chest open with an axe, and then drove to her home with an axe in his vehicle. As a result, he was convicted of intimidation, a felony, in St. Joseph County, Indiana.

  • Karl Albert Szymanski, Rockford

Mr. Szymanski, who was licensed in 2000, was suspended from the practice of law for six months and until further order of the Court. He improperly took $1,014 of a client’s settlement funds from his former law firm’s client trust account during a contentious dissolution of that firm.

  • Bruce Joseph Tackowiak, Los Angeles, California

Mr. Tackowiak was licensed in California in 1990 and in Illinois in 1991. The Supreme Court of California entered an order suspending him for two years, and staying the suspension after 90 days in favor of a two-year period of probation, subject to conditions, for falsely declaring in a motion to vacate an order of default in a prior disciplinary matter before the California State Bar Court that he had had a telephone conversation with a California State Bar investigator, and for failing to provide a substantive response to letters from California disciplinary authorities regarding that motion. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and entered an order, suspending him from the practice of law for two years and staying the suspension after 90 days in favor of a two-year period of probation, nunc pro tunc to the date discipline was imposed in California, subject to the conditions imposed by the Supreme Court of California and until the conditions imposed in California were successfully completed. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Steven Lee Wessels, Sacramento, California

Mr. Wessels was licensed in California in 1981 and in Illinois in 1983. The Supreme Court of California suspended him for one year, staying the suspension after six months in favor of a two- year period of conditional probation. He commingled over $17,000 of client funds with funds in his business account, failed to provide an accounting of fees and costs as ordered by a court and subsequently provided an inaccurate accounting, and accepted fees from a client's mother without obtaining the client's written consent to the payments. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for one year, staying the suspension after six months in favor of a two-year period of probation, nunc pro tunc to the date discipline was imposed in California, and subject to the conditions imposed by the Supreme Court of California. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Bruce Allen Willey, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Mr. Willey was licensed in Iowa in 1993 and in Illinois in 2008. The Supreme Court of Iowa suspended him for sixty days for encouraging a client to invest $100,000 in another client’s business without disclosing that not only was he representing the other client, but he was also the client’s business partner in the other venture. Mr. Willey also drafted a promissory note between the two clients without seeking their informed consent to the concurrent conflict of interest. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for sixty days. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Edward Albert Woller, Kewanee

Mr. Woller, who was licensed in 1979, was suspended for three months and until further order of the Court. He accepted $600 in fees from two clients and then neglected their matters. He did not respond to his clients’ requests for information and did not refund unearned fees. He also failed to cooperate with the ARDC’s requests for information and falsely told the ARDC that he could not locate one of the clients to refund her money. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

  • Jaime Teodoro Zeas, Silver Springs, Maryland

Mr. Zeas, who was licensed in 2006, was suspended from the practice of law on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. He was convicted in the McHenry County Circuit Court of child pornography, a class 1 felony, for filming a partially nude female under the age of 18 in the locker room of a health club.

REPRIMANDED

  • Michael A. Casey, Arlington, Texas

Mr. Casey was licensed in Illinois in 1981 and in Texas in 1983. He was publicly reprimanded in Texas for failing to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of the client’s civil matter. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded him.

  • Nancy Lee Carlson, Inverness

Ms. Carlson, who was licensed in 1985, was suspended from the practice of law for six months and until she completes an ARDC Professionalism Seminar. She failed to file an answer or respond to a motion for default in a couple’s foreclosure matter, which led to the court entering a default judgment against the couple. She also intentionally assisted a group of clients in accessing funds by having the funds diverted through her trust account, to avoid court orders designed to preserve those funds. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2017.

CENSURED

  • Michael Glen Barton, Springfield

Mr. Barton, who was licensed in 1983, was censured. He drafted estate planning documents for a client but did not communicate with the client about how the documents would alter the client’s estate plan. He signed the documents as a witness, and also directed his secretary to sign the documents as a witness, although neither of them had seen the client signing the documents. He also notarized the estate planning documents, falsely claiming that the client had appeared before him and had acknowledged signing the documents.

  • Cameron Anthony Davidson, Davenport, Iowa

Mr. Davidson, who was licensed in 1997, was censured. While representing a client in an employment dispute matter, he did not file a response to the opposing counsel’s motion to compel discovery and for sanctions, nor did he advise his client about the motion, his failure to respond to it, or the court’s subsequent order compelling discovery and ordering his client to pay sanctions of $1,750 in attorney fees. He altered a draft billing statement to give his client the impression that the $1,750 sanction award was for miscellaneous expenses. Subsequently, he did not inform his client about another court order imposing an additional $1,050 in sanctions against the client.

  • David Christian Jenk, Chicago

Mr. Jenk, who was licensed in 2013, was censured. He pushed, shoved, and struck his then- girlfriend. As a result, he was found guilty of domestic battery.

  • Helen Nicole Kaminski, Denver, Colorado

Ms. Kaminski was licensed in Illinois in 1994. The Supreme Court of Colorado publicly censured her for practicing law without a license or other authorization in Colorado (where she had not been admitted) from January 7, 2013 to October 21, 2014. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and entered an order censuring her in Illinois

Posted on Sep 22, 2017 by Sara Anderson | Comments (0)
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