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Illinois Supreme Court Disbars Seven, Suspends Nine, Reprimands Three, Censures Three

DISBARRED

  • Francis Joseph Coyle, Jr., Rock Island

Mr. Coyle, who was licensed in 1974, was disbarred. He intentionally misappropriated $100,000 in funds that he was supposed to be holding in escrow in connection with a real estate transaction. In addition, on two occasions, he falsely represented to the buyer’s attorney that he was still holding all of the funds in escrow.

  • Laird James Heal, Sterling, Massachusetts

Mr. Heal was licensed in Massachusetts in 1989 and in Illinois in 1991. The Supreme Judicial Court for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts disbarred him for misusing over $13,000 of funds held in escrow in connection with a bankruptcy case. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

  • Richard Carl Moenning, Chicago

Mr. Moenning, who was licensed in 1962, was disbarred. While serving as both trustee and trust counsel to several trusts created by two elderly sisters, he paid himself over $360,000 in purported fees without performing sufficient services to justify the payment of the funds. He also took years to notify or pay some of the trust beneficiaries, failed to disburse any funds to one beneficiary as of the time of the disciplinary hearing, failed to timely notify some of the beneficiaries of their interests under the trusts, and never provided an accounting to any of the beneficiaries or to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. He was suspended on an interim basis on June 15, 2016.

  • Irinia Pavchinskaya, Glenview

Ms. Pavchinskaya, who was licensed in 2011, was disbarred. She pled guilty to felony theft in state court after she entered a currency exchange, presented a fraudulent check bearing the business name and contact information for her law firm employer, and received $1,960.55 in cash. She also forged multiple checks using the name and contact information of that employer, created and provided fraudulent client information to her employer and misused client property. She failed to appear at her own disciplinary proceeding.

  • Alecia Marie Schmuhl, Warrenville

Ms. Schmuhl, who was licensed in 2009, was disbarred on consent. She pled guilty in Virginia state court to abduction with the intent to extort money, aggravated maiming and burglary. She aided and abetted her husband, Andrew Gilbert Schmuhl, also an Illinois attorney, by taking a partner in her former law firm, and the partner’s wife, hostage and attacking them in the couple’s McLean, Virginia, home. She was suspended on an interim basis on May 3, 2017.

  • John Lawrence Steele, Chicago

Mr. Steele, who was licensed in 2007, was disbarred on consent. Along with Illinois attorney Paul Andrew Duffy (now deceased) and Minnesota attorney Paul Hansmeier, the three conspired to extort settlement funds from thousands of internet users in a multi-jurisdictional copyright litigation scheme. Specifically, they attempted to exact settlements from users who allegedly infringed on the copyrights of certain pornographic movies, including movies that Mr. Steele himself produced and distributed. In late 2016, a federal grand jury in Minneapolis returned an 18-count indictment against Messrs. Steele and Hansmeier based on the conduct described above. Mr. Steele subsequently pled guilty to 2 of the 18 counts.

  • Gary J. Stern, Northbrook

Mr. Stern, who was licensed in 1983, was disbarred on consent. He pled guilty in federal court to aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation to the Internal Revenue Service of false income tax returns.

SUSPENDED

  • Debra Jean Fickler, Tonganoxie, Kansas

Ms. Fickler was licensed in Illinois in 1999 and in Kansas in 2009. She was suspended indefinitely in Kansas because she failed to file a brief on behalf of a client in his criminal appeal, did not respond to the court’s order to show cause, nor did she respond to the Kansas Disciplinary Administrator. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended her for three years and until she is reinstated in Kansas. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2017.

  • Dalton Payne Grief, Addison

Mr. Grief, who was licensed in 1965, was suspended for nine months. He failed to reduce a contingent fee agreement to writing, neglected a client's wrongful termination matter, misrepresented the status of the matter to the client, and did not cooperate during the ARDC’s initial investigation into his conduct. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2017.

  • Jeffrey Mark Isaacson, Deerfield

Mr. Isaacson, who was licensed in 1989, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after six months by a probationary period of one year. He neglected a client matter, continued to file pleadings after he was terminated, commingled funds and failed to cooperate with the disciplinary investigation. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2017.

  • William James Meacham, Edwardsville

Mr. Meacham, who was licensed in 1989, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. An ARDC hearing panel earlier recommended that he be disbarred for knowingly misappropriating $32,083 of a client’s personal injury settlement funds. In addition, he told a lien holder that he did not know what had happened to the money and then created false receipts falsely purporting to show that he had distributed most of the funds to the client.

  • Baltazar Mendoza, Chicago

Mr. Mendoza, who was licensed in 2001, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. The ARDC was investigating allegations that he had misappropriated more than more than $243,000 from several different clients and neglected a client’s matter and made misrepresentations to the client regarding the status of that matter.

  • Jay Lawrence Miller, Barrington

Mr. Miller, who was licensed in 1967, was suspended for one year and until he completes the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. In three separate matters, he converted a total of approximately $85,000 in funds belonging to clients or third parties during a time when he was having financial difficulties. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2017.

  • Dennis Brian Porick, Joliet

Mr. Porick, who was licensed in 1982, was suspended for eighteen months. He converted over $10,000 belonging to three separate clients whom he represented in collection matters. He also endorsed two of his clients’ names to checks he received on their behalf without the clients’ authorization. The suspension is effective on June 8, 2017.

  • Andrew Gilbert Schmuhl, Fort Belvoir, Virginia

Mr. Schmuhl, who was licensed in 2009, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. He was convicted in a circuit court in Virginia of abduction with the intent to extort money, aggravated maiming, using a firearm in the commission of a felony, and burglary. He abducted a partner in the former law firm of his spouse, Alecia Marie Schmuhl, also an Illinois attorney, and the partner’s wife, and battered them in the partner’s McLean, Virginia, home.

  • Diane Marie Wilkins, Chicago

Ms. Wilkins, who was licensed in 1999, was suspended from the practice of law for two years and until further order of the Court. She misappropriated $21,648.55 from a client and made false statements to the ARDC during the course of the disciplinary investigation.

REPRIMANDED

  • Walter L. Henderson, Tucson, Arizona

Mr. Henderson was licensed in Illinois in 1972 and in Arizona in 1974. He was reprimanded in Arizona for engaging in a conflict of interest by representing the administrator of a trust created by former clients without first obtaining the former clients’ consent. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded him.

  • George Krasnik, Chicago

Mr. Krasnik, who licensed in 1989, was reprimanded and required to complete the ARDC Professionalism Seminar. He drafted a power of attorney and a quitclaim deed for a client who sought to serve as the agent of man whom the client described as a friend of his. Mr. Krasnik never spoke to the alleged friend or conducted any investigation regarding that person’s wishes or competency. The client subsequently used both documents to victimize the other person, who was hospitalized and suffering from dementia.

  • Everett Walton, Wailuku, Hawai'i

Mr. Walton was licensed in Illinois in 1975 and in Hawai’i in 1977. He was publicly reprimanded in Hawai’i for making a false statement about his compensation in a client’s bankruptcy petition, for sharing attorney’s fees with a non-lawyer, and for assisting in the unauthorized practice of law in Hawai’i by filing a bankruptcy petition on a debtor’s behalf that had been prepared by a Florida professional corporation. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded him.

CENSURED

  • Mark E. Broaddus, Chicago

Mr. Broaddus, who was licensed in 1991, was censured. He drafted a document that purported to amend a deceased woman’s trust agreement, and then sent that document to his client (the woman’s grandnephew, who was also the successor trustee of the trust) with instructions to backdate the document with a date from before the woman’s death. The client then took the backdated document to a bank in an unsuccessful attempt to have the bank transfer an account in the woman’s name into the trust.

  • Craig Allan Goode, Chicago

Mr. Goode, who was licensed in 2007, was disbarred. While working on multiple federal and state court litigation matters for a client, he misrepresented the status of those matters to the client, submitted charges for work he did not do and, after the client fired him, he continued to use the client’s credit card number without authorization. He also appeared in court on behalf of the client after he had been removed from the Roll of Attorneys authorized to practice law in Illinois and misled his client about his ability to continue handling the client’s matters after his removal.

  • Karlo Michael Karacic, Chicago

Mr. Karacic, who was licensed in 1987, was censured. While representing the sellers in a residential real estate transaction, he failed to preserve the identity of $1,137 in escrow funds that his firm had agreed to hold.

    Posted on May 19, 2017 by Sara Anderson | Comments (1)
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    A lawyer who is a thief should not be a lawyer.

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