Filed October 31, 2007
In re Edward Allen Gregory

Commission No. 06 CH 17

Synopsis of Hearing Board Report and Recommendation

Default Hearing

NATURE OF THE CASE: 1) failing to abide by a client's decision whether to accept an offer of settlement; 2) failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client; 3) failing to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter or promptly comply with requests for information; 4) failing to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation; 5) failing to make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client; 6) engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; 7) engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice; 8) engaging in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute; 9) failing to promptly refund any part of a fee paid in advance that has not been earned; 10) failing to respond to a lawful demand for information from the Commission; 11) overreaching the attorney-client relationship; 12) breaching fiduciary obligations that Respondent owed to his clients; 13) entering into business transactions with clients when the lawyers knows or reasonably should know that the lawyer and the clients have or may have conflicting interests therein, without adequate disclosure and consent of the client; and 14) entering into business transactions with clients when the clients expects the lawyer to exercise the lawyer's professional judgment therein for the protection of the clients, without adequate disclosure and consent of the clients.

RULES DISCUSSED: 1.16(e), 1.2(a), 1.3, 1.4(a), 1.4(b), 1.8(a)(1), 1.8(a)(2), 3.2, 8.1(a)(2), 8.4(a)(4) and 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, Supreme Court Rule 770 and Commission Rule 53.

RECOMMENDATION: Disbarment.

DATE OF OPINION: November 1, 2007.

HEARING PANEL: James B. Pritikin, Chair, Nam H. Paik and David A. Dattilo.

RESPONDENT'S COUNSEL: Respondent did not appear and was not represented by counsel.

ADMINISTRATOR'S COUNSEL: Alicia F. Duncan.

BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD
OF THE
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
AND
DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION

In the Matter of:

EDWARD ALLEN GREGORY,

Attorney-Respondent,

No. 6203379.

Commission No. 06 CH 17

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE HEARING BOARD

DEFAULT PROCEEDING

INTRODUCTION

The hearing in this matter was held on July 12, 2007, at the Chicago offices of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, before a Hearing Board Panel consisting of James B. Pritikin, Chair, Nam H. Paik, lawyer member, and David A. Dattilo, public member. Alicia Duncan represented the Administrator. Respondent did not appear and was not represented by counsel.

PLEADINGS AND PRE-HEARING PROCEEDINGS

On April 5, 2006, the Administrator filed a five-count Complaint against Respondent. On June 28, 2006, the Administrator filed Substituted Service upon the Clerk of the Supreme Court. Respondent did not file an Answer or otherwise plead to the Complaint. On August 4, 2006, the Administrator filed a motion to deem the allegations of the Complaint admitted pursuant to Commission Rule 236. On August 16, 2006, the Chair granted the Administrator's motion, and limited the evidence to matters in aggravation and mitigation. On March 13, 2007, the Administrator filed a seven-count, First Amended Complaint against Respondent. Counts I, II, III, IV and V of the First Amended Complaint charge Respondent with neglect. Counts III,

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IV and V also charge Respondent with failure to return an unearned fee. Count VI charges Respondent with failure to cooperate with the Commission's investigation. Count VII charges Respondent with conflict of interest, overreaching and fraud. On April 16, 2007, the Administrator filed a motion to deem the allegations of the First Amended Complaint admitted pursuant to Commission Rule 236. On April 25, 2007, the Chair granted the Administrator's motion, and limited the evidence to matters in aggravation and mitigation.

THE EVIDENCE

The Administrator presented the testimony of James Bokios, Sigrid Johnson, June Calhoun, Eva Tripplett, Robert Thompson, Aviel Williams and John Cesario. The Administrator submitted twenty-six documentary exhibits.

Count I

In November 1994, Sigrid Johnson ("Johnson"), Betty Jean Galloway ("Galloway"), and a third party purchased, as joint tenants, real estate property located at 1669 Calumet Place, Calumet City, Illinois ("the Calumet property"). Johnson, Galloway, and the third party were all named as mortgagors on a mortgage loan. On October 2, 2000, Galloway approached Johnson and asked her to sign documents including a quitclaim deed ("the deed") so that Galloway could obtain a loan for the Calumet property. On October 27, 2000, without Johnson's knowledge, Galloway recorded the deed. In April 2001, Galloway asked Johnson to sign a tenant lease. When Johnson refused, Galloway showed her a copy of the deed and threatened to remove her from the Calumet property.

In early 2002, Respondent agreed to represent Johnson in her dispute with Galloway about the title to the Calumet property. On January 25, 2002, Respondent filed a complaint to quiet title to real estate and to set aside the deed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, on behalf of Johnson entitled, Sigrid Johnson, Plaintiff v. Betty Jean Galloway, et al., Defendants ("the

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Johnson matter"). A lis pendens notice was also recorded in the Office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. In the complaint, Johnson alleged that defendant Betty Jean Galloway fraudulently caused Johnson to execute the deed and placed Johnson in the position of being liable for a mortgage loan against the Calumet property when she is no longer in title. (Adm. Ex. 1).

On April 25, 2003, defendant Galloway, through counsel, filed an answer and a counterclaim against Johnson. In the counterclaim, Galloway alleged that Johnson's action is not valid because she does not have an ownership interest in the property at issue, and that it casts a cloud on Galloway's title to the Calumet property. On November 18, 2003, Galloway served her First Interrogatories and First Request for Documents and Things upon the Law Office of Edward Gregory. From November 18, 2003 until January 16, 2004, Respondent did not respond to the written discovery requests on behalf of Jason or seek to obtain an extension of time for the responses. On January 16, 2004, Galloway filed a motion to dismiss Johnson's complaint for failure to comply with the written discovery that was served upon Respondent's law firm on November 18, 2003. Between January 16, 2004 and February 9, 2004, Respondent did not file a response to Galloway's motion to dismiss Johnson's complaint or file Johnson's responses to written discovery. (Adm. Ex. 1).

On February 9, 2004, Respondent did not appear in court in the Johnson matter on behalf of Johnson and Galloway's motion to dismiss for failure to comply with discovery was granted. Johnson's claims were dismissed with prejudice. The case was set for a status hearing on February 23, 2004, for the status of Galloway's counterclaim. On February 23, 2004, Respondent appeared in court on behalf of Johnson and an agreed order was entered continuing the case for status to March 23, 2004 and stating that Johnson's right to file a motion to vacate the dismissal order entered on February 9, 2004, under Illinois Rule of Civil Procedure 5/2-1203,

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was preserved and extended until further order of court. Between February 23, 2004, and October 19, 2004, Respondent did not file a motion to vacate the dismissal order entered against Johnson in the Johnson matter or otherwise seek relief from the dismissal order. (Adm. Ex. 1).

On October 19, 2004, Respondent and counsel for Galloway agreed to settle Johnson's claims, agreed to move to voluntarily dismiss Johnson's claims and agreed that Johnson would release the lis pendens notice. Johnson did not authorize Respondent to settle the Johnson matter. Respondent did not notify Johnson that he reached an agreement with counsel for Galloway to settle Johnson's claims. On October 19, 2004, Galloway and Johnson filed a joint motion to voluntarily dismiss Johnson's complaint. The motion stated that Johnson and Galloway had reached a settlement. The motion further stated, that "Upon consultation, Edward Gregory, counsel for the Plaintiff…has joined in this Motion and states that Plaintiff…seeks to dismiss her claims and to release the lis pendens pending against the property at issue in this lawsuit…" Respondent did not tell Johnson that a joint motion to dismiss her complaint in the Johnson matter had been filed. (Adm. Ex. 1).

On October 26, 2004, the joint motion to voluntarily dismiss Johnson's complaint was granted and Johnson's claims were dismissed with prejudice and the lis pendens was released. The matter was set for a status hearing on November 29, 2004, for the status of Galloway's counterclaim. On November 10, 2004, a case management status hearing was held. Respondent did not appear in court on behalf of Johnson. The parties were ordered to report on the status of settlement of Galloway's counterclaims at the status hearing on November 29, 2004. On November 29, 2004, Respondent did not appear in court on behalf of Johnson for the status hearing on Galloway's counterclaims. The court ordered the parties to report on the status of the settlement of Galloway's counterclaims at the December 13, 2004, case management conference and ordered Respondent to appear at that time unless the case settled before then. (Adm. Ex. 1).

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On December 13, 2004, Respondent appeared in court on behalf of Johnson at the case management conference and an order was entered requiring Johnson to respond to all outstanding discovery by December 27, 2004. As of January 4, 2004, Respondent had not responded to Galloway's outstanding discovery requests and Galloway filed a Rule 219(a) motion to compel. On January 11, 2005, Respondent filed a motion for extension of time to respond to outstanding discovery. In the motion, Respondent stated, "that on or about December 13, 2004, this Honorable Court granted Sigrid Johnson until December 27, 2004, to answer outstanding discovery. That after said date, Sigrid Johnson was not available to help complete the responses to Galloway's discovery request." Between December 13, 2004, and January 11, 2005, Respondent did not advise Johnson about the status of her case, did not advise Johnson that any discovery requests were outstanding, nor did Respondent attempt to contact Johnson. (Adm. Ex. 1).

On January 12, 2005, a hearing was held on Galloway's motion to compel. Respondent did not appear in court on behalf of Johnson. A rule to show cause was issued against Johnson as to why she should not be held in indirect civil contempt for failing to comply with the court's December 13, 2004 order. The matter was set for hearing on January 26, 2005. In late January 2005, Respondent met with Johnson at his office to discuss outstanding discovery requests. Respondent did not advise Johnson that her complaint had been dismissed. (Adm. Ex. 1).

On January 26, 2005, Respondent appeared in court with the responses to the discovery requests and the rule to show cause was discharged, but Galloway's counsel was awarded attorney fees against Johnson for the fees incurred in filing the motion to compel and attending the January 26, 2005 hearing. The court ordered Galloway to file her fee petition on January 27, 2005. On February 2, 2005, Galloway served an amended notice of Johnson's deposition on

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Respondent. The amended notice of deposition scheduled Johnson's deposition for February 28, 2005. (Adm. Ex. 1).

On February 22, 2005, counsel for Galloway sent a letter via facsimile to Respondent to confirm Johnson's attendance at the deposition on February 28, 2005. On February 24 and February 25, 2005, counsel for Galloway sent follow-up letters via facsimile to Respondent seeking a response regarding Johnson's attendance at the February 28, 2005, deposition. Throughout the week of February 21, 2005, counsel for Galloway also called Respondent's office numerous times and left messages for Respondent. As of February 25, 2005, Respondent did not respond to counsel for Galloway's correspondence or telephone calls or communicate with counsel for Galloway in any way. Accordingly, counsel for Galloway cancelled Johnson's deposition scheduled for February 28, 2005. (Adm. Ex. 1, 25).

On March 2, 2005, Galloway's counsel filed a motion compelling Johnson's attendance at a deposition. A hearing on the motion was set for March 21, 2005. On March 17, 2005, a pretrial conference in the Johnson matter took place. Respondent did not appear in court on behalf of Johnson. A default judgment was entered against Johnson on Galloway's counterclaims, the motion to compel filed by Galloway on March 2, 2005, was withdrawn without prejudice, and Galloway was awarded $1,128.74 for attorneys fees to be paid by Respondent pursuant to the fee petition filed by Galloway. A prove-up hearing on Galloway's counterclaims was set for April 13, 2005. Respondent did not notify Johnson that a default order was entered against her on Galloway's counterclaims. In April 2005, Johnson reached Respondent by telephone. Respondent advised her that he was going back to court for status on the Johnson matter and that he would get back to her. (Adm. Ex. 1, 25).

On April 13, 2005, a prove-up hearing pursuant to the order of default on Galloway's counterclaim against Johnson was held. Respondent did not appear in court on behalf of

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Johnson. On May 3, 2005, judgment was entered against Johnson awarding Galloway possession of the Calumet property, as of May 1, 2005, and ordering Johnson to pay back rent in the amount of $10,250.00. On May 9, 2005, the court entered an order of possession entitling Galloway to possession of the Calumet property effective May 1, 2005, and directing the Sheriff of Cook County to evict Johnson from the Calumet property on or after June 3, 2005. Respondent did not advise Johnson of the May 3, 2005 judgment and the May 9, 2005 order of possession. Respondent did not file any motions or pleadings to appeal the judgment entered against Johnson on May 3, 2005. (Adm. Ex. 1, 2).

In late May 2005, the order of possession that had been entered against her on May 9, 2005 was posted on the front door of the Calumet property. Johnson saw the notice and learned that she would be evicted on June 3, 2005. Johnson attempted to communicate with Respondent about the order of possession and the status of her case by calling his office. The time Johnson called; she left a message for Respondent asking him to return her call. Respondent did not return her call or communicate with her in any way. (Adm. Ex. 1).

Between late May 2005 and June 3, 2005, after the first time Johnson called Respondent and left a message, Johnson attempted to communicate with Respondent numerous times about the status of her case by calling his office. Each time she called, neither Respondent, nor anyone on his behalf, answered the phone at Respondent's office and, Johnson was unable to leave messages on Respondent's voicemail because each time she called, the voicemail message stated, "the mailbox belonging to Edward Gregory is full."

Between late May 2005 and June 3, 2005, Johnson attempted to communicate with Respondent about the status of her case by going to Respondent's office several times Each time Johnson went to Respondent's office, a member of the staff at the suite where Respondent maintained his office informed Johnson that they did not know Respondent's whereabouts.

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Count II

On May 9, 2002, Respondent agreed to represent June Calhoun ("Calhoun") in opposing the foreclosure sale of Calhoun's residential home at 536 E. 89th Street, Chicago, IL ("the 89th Street property"), which Calhoun owned subject to a mortgage held by U.S. Bank National Association ("U.S. Bank"). On July 18, 2002, U.S. Bank filed a complaint for foreclosure and other relief related to the 89th Street property in the Circuit Court of Cook County, entitled U.S. Bank National Association, f/k/a First Bank National Association, Plaintiff v. Danny Calhoun, June Calhoun, et al., Defendants ("the Calhoun matter"). The lawsuit was docketed and sought an amount due and owing on two mortgages in the amount of $140,211.43 with interest accruing at a rate of $34.69 per day. (Adm. Ex. 3).

On July 25, 2002, Calhoun was served with the complaint for foreclosure in the Calhoun matter and notified Respondent. On February 6, 2003, Respondent filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition on behalf of Calhoun in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois ("the bankruptcy petition"). Section 362 of the United States Bankruptcy Code automatically stays all acts, proceedings…and the judicial process against the debtor or property of the estate. The effect of the automatic stay was to stay the judicial process from proceeding against Calhoun, her property, or her estate. (Adm. Ex. 4).

On February 10, 2003, an order for default and judgment of foreclosure was entered against Calhoun in the Calhoun matter. Respondent did not file schedules A-J and the Chapter 13 Plan for the bankruptcy petition by March 28, 2003. On March 28, 2003, the Trustee filed a motion to dismiss the Calhoun bankruptcy petition based on Respondent's failure to file Schedules A-J and the Chapter 13 Plan. (Adm. Ex. 3, 4).

On April 9, 2003, an order was entered dismissing the Calhoun bankruptcy petition and barring Calhoun from filing her bankruptcy petition again for a period of 180 days. As of April

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9, 2003, the automatic stay was lifted. On April 11, 2003, notice of dismissal was mailed to Calhoun and Respondent. (Adm. Ex. 3, 4).

On April 22, 2003, a notice of sale was entered in the Calhoun matter regarding the 89th Street property giving public notice that on May 13, 2003, the 89th Street property would be sold. On May 8, 2003, Respondent filed an emergency motion to vacate the default order and judgment of foreclosure and to stay the proceedings in the Calhoun matter. On May 30, 2003, U.S. Bank filed a motion to vacate the judgment in the Calhoun matter. The motion was granted, the judgment against Calhoun was vacated, Calhoun was ordered to answer U.S. Bank's complaint on or before June 20, 2003 and the case was continued to July 1, 2003. (Adm. Ex. 3).

By June 20, 2003, Respondent had not filed an answer to U.S. Bank's complaint on behalf of Calhoun. On July 1, 2003, Respondent did not appear in court to represent Calhoun and a judgment of foreclosure and sale and an order for default was entered against Calhoun. On September 11, 2003, a Notice of Sale was entered in the Calhoun matter giving notice that the sale of the 89th Street property would take place on October 2, 2003. Respondent received a copy of the notice. (Adm. Ex. 3).

On December 8, 2003, Respondent appeared on behalf of Calhoun and requested a continuance of U.S. Bank's motion for confirmation of sale. Respondent motion was entered and continued to January 5, 2005. On January 5, 2004, Calhoun was granted time to respond to U.S. Bank's motion for confirmation of sale and the matter was continued to February 20, 2004. On February 20, 2004, Respondent did not appear in court in the Calhoun matter to represent Calhoun and U.S. Bank's report of foreclosure sale to Mark Wallace ("Wallace") was approved and confirmed. On March 19, 2004, Respondent filed a motion to reconsider the entry of order confirming sale and stay of order of possession. However, after March 19, 2004, Respondent did not do anything to proceed with the motion to reconsider on behalf of Calhoun. On April 29,

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2004, Respondent sent a letter to Calhoun stating that the purchaser had increased the sales price and their investor was reviewing the transaction. Respondent enclosed a copy of the court order requiring the foreclosure sale purchaser to provide notice of summons to persons occupying the premises. (Adm. Ex. 3, 24).

On May 27, 2004, an order of possession was entered in favor of the buyer of the property, Wallace, against Calhoun. On June 21, 2004, an order was entered confirming that the May 27, 2004, order granting Wallace possession of the 89th Street property was valid and that Wallace was entitled to immediate possession of the premises against Calhoun and any other resident of the property. Respondent did not reply or answer Wallace's motion or do anything to intercede on behalf of Calhoun to protect her interests or her property. (Adm. Ex. 3).

Before July 1, 2004, Respondent did not advise Calhoun of the true status of her case and that she was going to be evicted. Approximately one week prior to Calhoun's eviction, Respondent assured Calhoun that the matter was proceeding properly and that she still owned her property. On July 1, 2004, Calhoun was evicted from the 89th Street property.

Count III

In March 2003, Respondent agreed to represent Robert Thompson ("Thompson") in relation to an Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") matter arising from Thompson's claim that he was owed a refund of $22,000 to $29,000 on his 1987 through 1997 federal tax returns. Respondent agreed to attempt to settle the matter with the IRS and Thompson's wife's employer, who provided inaccurate information to the IRS about the status of her employment or to file a lawsuit. Respondent and Thompson agreed that Respondent's fee for the matter would be $1,000.00. In March 2003, Respondent met with Thompson at Respondent's office. Thompson provided Respondent with original documents related to the matter. At this time, Respondent assured Thompson that he had a good case.

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In April 2003, Thompson paid Respondent $250.00 towards Respondent's fee. In June 2003, Thompson paid Respondent a second payment of $250.00 towards Respondent's fee. In June 2003, Thompson contacted Respondent for status on the matter. Respondent advised Thompson that the IRS agreed to settle the matter with Thompson for $52,000.00, but that he would have to get back to him about what Thompson's wife's employer would offer for settlement. Respondent did not provide Thompson with any documentation of the alleged IRS settlement offer. From July 2003 to October 2005, Thompson attempted to communicate with Respondent about the status of his matter by telephone by calling his office numerous times. Neither Respondent, nor anyone on his behalf answered the phone at Respondent's office and Thompson was unable to leave messages on Respondent's voicemail because each time he called the voice mail message stated that, "the mailbox belonging to Edward Gregory is full."

On at least five occasions between July 2003 and August 2005, Thompson attempted to communicate with Respondent about the status of his matter by going to Respondent's office. Each time, a member of the office staff for the office space where Respondent rented his office informed him that they did not know Respondent's whereabouts. From July 2003 until the date of this Hearing, Respondent has not contacted Thompson regarding the status of his matter, or provided Thompson with any documentation, pleading or correspondence demonstrating that he performed any legal work on Thompson's matter. Respondent did not perform any legal services on Thompson's behalf warranting the retention of the $500.00 paid by Thompson. (Adm. Ex. 9).

Count IV

In September 2003, Respondent agreed to represent Eva Tripplett ("Tripplett") in a claim for damages arising from her eviction on May 23, 2001, from an apartment located at 7060 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago. Respondent and Tripplett agreed that Respondent's fee for the matter

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would be $750.00. On July 29, 2004, Tripplett paid Respondent $300.00 toward Respondent's legal fee. On September 29, 2004, Triplett paid Respondent $450.00 toward Respondent's legal fee for the claim for damages. (Adm. Ex. 5).

On September 1, 2004, Triplett received a traffic ticket and on September 25, 2004, Triplett received a second traffic ticket. On October 20, 2004, Respondent agreed to represent Tripplett with regard to both traffic tickets. Respondent and Triplett agreed that his fee for the traffic matters would be $100.00. On January 25, 2005, Triplett paid Respondent $50.00 toward Respondent's fee for the traffic matters. Also, on January 25, 2005, Tripplet advised Respondent that there was a hearing date set for the first traffic ticket on March 25, 2005, at traffic court in Bridgeview. Respondent and Triplett agreed that Triplett would pay $50.00, the balance of Respondent's $100.00 fee, on March 25, 2005. (Adm. Ex. 5).

From January 25, 2005, to March 25, 2005, Tripplett attempted to communicate with Respondent about the status of her cases by calling his office numerous times. Each time Tripplett called, neither Respondent, nor anyone on his behalf answered the phone at Respondent's office and Triplett was unable to leave messages on Respondent's voicemail because each time she called the voice mail message stated that "the mailbox belonging to Edward Gregory is full."

On March 25, 2005, Respondent did not appear in traffic court in Bridgeview to represent Tripplett. Tripplett requested a continuance from the court to retain a new attorney. From March 25, 2005 to May 6, 2005, Tripplett attempted to communicate with Respondent about the status of her cases by calling his office numerous times. Tripplett received the same voicemail message stating that "the mailbox belonging to Edward Gregory is full." On March 14, 2005, Tripplett attempted to communicate with Respondent about the status of her cases by sending

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him a letter to his office address. Respondent did not respond to Tripplett's letter or attempt to communicate with her in any way. (Adm. Ex. 6).

Between March 14, 2005 and May 6, 2005, Tripplett attempted to communicate with Respondent about the status of her cases by going to his office at least two times. Each time, a member of the staff at the suite where Respondent maintained his office informed Tripplett that Respondent had not been seen at the office since February 2, 2005. Respondent did not perform the legal services he agreed to perform when he was retained in September 2003 for the landlord/tenant matter or when he was retained in October for the traffic matters to earn the $800.00 paid by Tripplett.

Count V

On October 5, 2004, Respondent agreed to represent Aviel Williams ("Williams") to vacate or appeal a judgment that had been entered against Williams on September 14, 2004, in the amount $4,400.00 plus costs of $273.40 in a landlord/tenant dispute for alleged damage to property and failure to pay rent that was pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, as Shola Dwivedi v. Aviel Williams and Angela Williams. Respondent and Williams agreed that Respondent's fee for the matter would be $400.00. On October 5, 2004, Williams paid $400.00 to Respondent for his fee for the matter. (Adm. Ex. 7).

Between October 2004, and March 2005, Williams attempted to communicate with Respondent about the status of his matter by calling his office numerous times. Neither Respondent, nor anyone on his behalf answered the phone at Respondent's office and Williams was unable to leave messages on Respondent's voicemail because each time she called the voicemail message stated that "the mailbox belonging to Edward Gregory is full."

Between October 2004 and February 2005, on at least one occasion, Williams attempted to communicate with Respondent about the status of her matter by going to his office. Williams

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was informed by a member of the staff at the suite where Respondent maintains his office that they did not know Respondent's whereabouts. Between October 2004 and February 2005, Respondent did not file any motions or appeals on William's behalf to have her case re-opened, or to do anything on behalf of Williams to preserve his right to pursue this matter. In February 2005, Williams contacted Respondent, terminated his services and requested a full refund of the $400.00 he paid Respondent. On March 1, 2005, Williams sent Respondent a letter confirming their conversation wherein Williams terminated Respondent's representation and requested a full refund. Since being hired in October 2004, Respondent has not completed any work on behalf of Williams to justify retaining any or the entire $400.00 legal fee he received from Williams. (Adm. Ex. 8).

Count VI

A. Failure to Cooperate with the Investigation Initiated by Robert A. Thompson

On May 17, 2005, the Commission received a written "Request for an Investigation of a Lawyer" and attachments from Robert A. Thompson ("Thompson") regarding Respondent. On May 23, 2005, Counsel for the Administrator sent a copy of Thompson's "Request for an Investigation of a Lawyer" with the attachments and a letter to Respondent at his last registered address requesting a written response to the allegation within fourteen days pursuant to Commission Rule 53. (Adm. Ex. 9).

Respondent did not submit a written response to Thompson's allegations. By a letter dated July 27, 2005, Counsel for the Administrator advised Respondent that he had not responded to Thompson's charges and requested a written response within seven days or a subpoena would be issued compelling his appearance at the Commission's Chicago office. (Adm. Ex. 11).

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On August 22, 2005, Respondent sent a letter to Counsel for the Administrator stating that he did not receive the Administrator's May 23, 2005 letter and that he had just received the Administrator's letter dated July 27, 2005. Respondent stated that he was unable to locate a file containing Thompson's name and that he would continue to search for any information relating to Thompson. Respondent never provided a written response to Thompson's allegations nor did he follow up his August 22, 2005, response which he indicated he would continue to search for any information relating to Thompson. (Adm. Ex. 12).

B. Failure to Cooperate with the Investigation Initiated by Aviel Williams

On April 7, 2005, the Commission received a written "Request for an Investigation of a Lawyer" and attachments from Aviel Williams ("Williams") regarding Respondent. On September 7, 2005, counsel for the Administrator sent Respondent a letter requesting specific information related to the Williams matter and requesting that Respondent provide that information within seven days. Respondent never provided a written response to the Administrator's September 27, 2005 request for information. (Adm. Ex. 14).

C. Failure to Appear for Sworn Statement with Regard to the Thompson,

Williams, Johnson, Calhoun and Tripplett Investigations

On September 27, 2005, the Administrator mailed, via certified mail to Respondent's last registered address, a subpoena and a letter dated September 27, 2005, requiring that Respondent appear for a sworn statement and produce documents in connection with investigation related to the allegations of Robert Thompson, Aviel Williams, Sigrid Johnson, June Calhoun and Eva Tripplett on October 12, 2005. On September 28, 2005, the subpoena dated September 27, 2005 was received at Respondent's last registered address. On October 11, 2005, counsel for the Administrator attempted to contact Respondent to confirm his appearance at the sworn statement scheduled for October 12, 2005 by telephone by calling his office. Neither Respondent, nor

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anyone on his behalf answered the phone at Respondent's office and counsel for the Administrator was unable to leave a message on Respondent's voicemail because the voice mail message stated, "the mailbox belonging to Edward Gregory is full." (Adm. Ex. 16, 17).

On October 12, 2005, Respondent did not appear for his sworn statement pr produce any documents pursuant to the September 27, 2005 subpoena. On October 12, 2005, counsel for the Administrator attempted to contact Respondent about his failure to appear for the sworn statement by calling his office two times. Respondent's appearance and request for the production of documents in response to the October 27, 2005 subpoena was never excused or waived.

Count VII

Propertycor, Inc., 111W. Washington, Ste. 737, Chicago, IL 60602 ("Propertycor"), was a corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois on September 30, 1997, by Respondent as a purported real estate investment business. Between September 30, 1997 and February 1, 2003, Respondent was the Registered Agent of Propertycor. On February 1, 2003, Propertycor was involuntarily dissolved by the Illinois Secretary of State. At all relevant times, there existed TCF National Bank account number 6871228044 entitled, "Propertycor, Inc." ("the Propertycor bank account"). Respondent maintained control of the check book and debit card for the Propertycor bank account, and otherwise maintained control of the funds deposited into the Propertycor bank account. (Adm. Ex. 18, 19).

A. Conflict of Interest, Overreaching and Fraud Related to James Bokios

As of January 2004, Respondent and James Bokios ("Bokios") had an attorney-client relationship. Respondent represented Bokios in a breach of contract action against Mourna Koulis and a forcible detainer action against Ralph Baker and Charlene Felter. On January 12, 2004, Respondent proposed a joint business venture to Bokios by which Respondent and Bokios

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would purchase a real estate property located at Turlington Avenue in Harvey, Illinois ("the Turlington Avenue property"), rehab it, and then sell it at a higher price giving Bokios a percentage of the profits. Respondent advised Bokios that Bokios would have a 50% interest in the Turlington Avenue property. Respondent requested that Bokios provide a check in the amount of $39,000 made payable to Propertycor, Inc. as a loan for the purchase of the Turlington Avenue property.

On January 12, 2004, based upon Respondent's statements about the proposed joint business venture, Bokios agreed to enter into the proposed joint business venture and gave Respondent a Citibank cashier's check, dated January 12, 2004, made payable to Propertycor, Inc. in the amount of $39,000. Respondent did not advise Bokios that his interest and Bokios' interests regarding the Turlington Avenue property joint venture were or could be adverse, nor did Respondent advise Bokios to obtain independent legal counsel prior to making the $39,000 payment to Propertycor. Prior to entering into the Turlington Avenue property joint venture, Bokios did not consult with independent legal counsel.

On January 26, 2004, Respondent deposited the $39,000 check into the Propertycor bank account. Bokios visited the Turlington property and observed that a contractor had already started to rehab the property. After questioning a worker at the site, Bokios learned that the Turlington Avenue property had already been sold and was currently not for sale. Respondent did not purchase the Turlington Avenue property. Respondent used Bokios's funds for his own personal purposes. Respondent did not respond to Bokios's numerous telephone calls after January 26, 2004, regarding the return of $39,000. On October 18, 2004, Respondent wrote a check from the Propertycor bank account made payable to Bokios in the amount of $5,000. Bokios received a check on October 26, 2004. Respondent has not returned the remaining $34,000.00 to Bokios. (Adm. Ex. 20).

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B. Conflict of Interest, Overreaching and Fraud Related to Jay and Pat Turner

Since 1995, Respondent had an attorney-client relationship with Jay E. Turner, M.D. and Pat Turner ("the Turners"). Respondent handled various legal matters for them including preparation of their taxes, creating an estate plan, establishing and managing a family trust and establishing the Turner Family Limited Partnership. On January 14, 2004, Respondent advised the Turners that he had an opportunity for them to invest in Propertycor, a real estate investment company. Respondent explained that if they put money into Propertycor, he would bring different investors together to invest in real estate, and then the Turners would receive a return on their investment. Respondent did not provide the Turners with any details about the investment or with any written investment proposal or agreement. Respondent requested that the Turners provide a check in the amount of $39,000 made payable to Propertycor, Inc. for the investment.

On January 14, 2004, based upon Respondent's statements about the investment opportunity, the Turners gave Respondent a check, dated January 14, 2004, made payable to Propertycor, Inc. in the amount of $39,000.00. Respondent did not advise the Turners that his interests and the Turners' interests regarding the transaction with Propertycor were or could be adverse, nor did Respondent advise the Turners to obtain independent legal counsel prior to making the $39,000 payment to Propertycor. The Turners did not consult with independent counsel. On January 15, 2004, Respondent deposited the $39,000 check into the Propertycor bank account. Respondent did not make any real estate investments on behalf of the Turners. Respondent used the Turners' funds for his own personal purposes. (Adm. Ex. 20).

On March 5, 2004, Respondent wrote a check from the Propertycor bank account made payable to the Turner Family Limited Partnership in the amount of $49,000.00 as a purported return on the $39,000.00 investment. On October 14, 2004, Respondent again advised the

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Turners that he had an opportunity for them to invest in real estate through Propertycor. Respondent did not provide the Turners with any details about the investment or with any written investment proposal or agreement. Respondent requested that the Turners provide a check in the amount of $40,000 made payable to Propertycor, Inc. for the investment. (Adm. Ex. 20).

On October 14, 2004, based upon Respondent's statements about the investment opportunity, the Turners gave Respondent a check, dated October 14, 2004, made payable to Propertycor, Inc. in the amount of $40,000.00. Respondent did not advise the Turners that his interests and the Turners' interests regarding the transaction with Propertycor were or could be adverse, nor did Respondent advise the Turners to obtain independent legal counsel prior to making the $40,000.00 payment to Propertycor. The Turners did not consult with independent legal counsel. On October 15, 2004, Respondent deposited the $40,000 check into the Propertycor bank account. Respondent did not make any real estate investments on behalf of the Turners. Respondent used the Turners' funds for his own personal purposes. Respondent did not return any portion of the $40,000.00 to the Turners. (Adm. Ex. 20).

C. Conflict of Interest, Overreaching and Fraud Related to June Calhoun

Between January 5, 2004 and January 26, 2004, Respondent recommended to June Calhoun ("Calhoun") that he create and implement an investment plan to protect Calhoun's interests in the 89th Street property. On January 26, 2004, Respondent advised Calhoun that he found a group of investors operating under the name Propertycor, Inc. to purchase the 89th Street property. On that date, Respondent presented an investment plan to Calhoun that would allow Calhoun to remain on the property and eventually repurchase the property to Propertycor. Respondent explained to Calhoun that she and Propertycor would enter into Articles of Agreement setting forth a purchase price for the property, payment terms and conditions. Upon satisfaction of the payment terms and conditions, Propertycor would convey title back to

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Calhoun. Respondent advised Calhoun that all she needed to do to get the process started was to give Respondent a check in the amount of $6,500 made payable to Propertycor for earnest money. Respondent advised Calhoun that if the investment plan failed, the $6,500 would be refunded to her.

On January 26, 2004, Calhoun gave Respondent a check, postdated for February 22, 2004; made payable to Propertycor in the amount of $6,500. Respondent provided her with a draft of the Articles of Agreement. The draft identified Calhoun as the buyer and Propertycor as the seller of the 89th Street property and set forth the purchase price, payment terms and conditions that Calhoun would have to satisfy before Propertycor would sell the property back to her. The draft Articles of Agreement identified the $6,500.00 paid by Calhoun to Propertycor as earnest money to be applied to the purchase price. (Adm. Ex. 22).

Respondent did not advise Calhoun that his interests and Calhoun's interests regarding the transaction with Propertycor were or could be adverse, nor did Respondent advise Calhoun to obtain independent legal counsel prior to making the $6,500 payment to Propertycor. Calhoun did not consult with independent legal counsel. On January 26, 2004, Respondent deposited the $6,500 check into the Propertycor bank account. Propertycor did not purchase the 89th Street property. On July 1, 2004, Calhoun contacted Respondent and requested a refund of the $6,500 she paid pursuant to Respondent's original statements that he would refund the $6,500 should the investment plan fail. Respondent did not respond to Calhoun's numerous phone calls or office visits after July 1, 2004. Respondent did not refund the $6,500 to Calhoun. Respondent used the funds for his own personal purposes. (Adm. Ex. 23).

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Evidence Offered in Aggravation

James Bokios

James Bokios was an accountant. He retired in 2002. Mr. Bokios stated that he started investing in rehab properties in 1999. Mr. Bokios stated that he hired Respondent to represent him in a forcible detainer action in January 2004. Mr. Bokios paid Respondent $500 as a retainer fee. Also in January 2004, Respondent proposed a business venture to Mr. Bokios. Respondent wanted to split the cost of purchasing a property, renovate the property and sell it for profit. Mr. Bokios agreed and gave Respondent a cashier's check in the amount of $39,000 made payable to Propertycor, Inc. Mr. Bokios stated that Respondent never told him what Propertycor, Inc. was or Respondent's involvement with Propertycor, Inc. Mr. Bokios assumed that Propertycor was the seller of the property for the business venture. Respondent never advised Mr. Bokios that his interests could be adverse to that of Respondent's interests. (Adm. Ex. 20, p. 13, 21; Tr. 12-21).

In 2004, after Mr. Bokios gave Respondent the $39,000 check, he spoke to Respondent on several occasions regarding their business venture. Mr. Bokios stated that Respondent never told him anything definite about the property. Mr. Bokios stated that he thought that the property was getting rehabilitated. On October 18, 2004, Mr. Bokios went to Respondent's office to check on the status of other matters that Respondent was handling on his behalf. At that meeting, Respondent told Mr. Bokios that the investment property did not work out. Respondent gave Mr. Bokios a check for $5,000. Respondent told Mr. Bokios that he would give him the remaining $34,000 within a short while. Between October and December 2004, Mr. Bokios spoke to Respondent on a few occasions. After December 2004, Mr. Bokios was not able to contact Respondent. Respondent has never refunded the $34,000. Mr. Bokios stated that he attempted to contact Respondent every day. Mr. Bokios went to his office where he was told

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that Respondent was on vacation. Mr. Bokios stated that Respondent never concluded the other legal matters in which he represented Mr. Bokios. (Tr. 21-28).

Mr. Bokios stated that he hired another attorney to handle his legal matters. Mr. Bokios had to repay the bank for the $39,000 loan with interest. Mr. Bokios stated that Respondent's conduct has negatively affected his opinion of attorneys. Mr. Bokios stated that he no longer trusts attorneys. Mr. Bokios's opinion of the legal system has also changed. Mr. Bokios stated that he has to be very cautious. (Tr. 28-30).

Sigrid Johnson

Sigrid Johnson is employed at the Cook County Hospital as a stenographer. In 2002, Ms. Johnson retained Respondent's firm to research a real estate matter. Another attorney was handling Ms. Johnson's legal matters. In December 2003, the attorney left the firm and Respondent took over Ms. Johnson's file. In April 2004, Respondent contacted Ms. Johnson and let her know that he was handling her case. A complaint had been filed on Ms. Johnson's behalf. Ms. Johnson stated that she was aware of the counterclaim filed against her. From September 2004 to April 2005, Ms. Johnson made payments for Respondent's services every two weeks totaling $2,300. (Tr. 31-36).

Ms. Johnson stated that she met with Respondent in June 2004. Respondent had reviewed the file and told Ms. Johnson that "her case was going fine." Respondent did not ask Ms. Johnson for permission to settle the case. Respondent never told Ms. Johnson that he was agreeing to release the lis pendens against the property. Ms. Johnson never gave Respondent permission to release the lis pendens. Respondent never told Ms. Johnson that her claim was dismissed in October 2004. (Tr. 37-38).

In late January 2005, Respondent asked Ms. Johnson to complete some paperwork. Ms. Johnson went to Respondent's office and answered the discovery questions. At that time,

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Respondent told Ms. Johnson that they should have a hearing date soon. After their meeting, Ms. Johnson never heard from Respondent again. In May 2005, Ms. Johnson received a letter stating that she was going to be evicted. Ms. Johnson tried contacting Respondent to no avail. Ms. Johnson went to Respondent's office but was unable to meet with him. Ms. Johnson was evicted from her property. Ms. Johnson stated that she was negatively affected by Respondent's conduct. Ms. Johnson stated that she spent a lot of money that she did not have on attorney's fees and moving expenses. Ms. Johnson stated that she hopes there are still some good lawyers out there. (Tr. 38-43).

June Calhoun

June Calhoun testified that she retained Respondent to represent her with regard to opposing the foreclosure sale of her home in May 2002. Ms. Calhoun stated that she paid Respondent approximately $2,500.00. Ms. Calhoun learned that Respondent failed to appear in court on her behalf several times. In January 2004, Respondent recommended that he create an investment plan to protest Ms. Calhoun's interest in her house. According to the investment agreement, Ms. Calhoun was supposed to pay $6,500 to invest into Respondent's plan. Further, if the plan failed, Respondent would return all of the money. Ms. Calhoun agreed to the investment plan and paid Respondent $6,500. Ms. Calhoun stated that she paid Respondent money from her savings account. (Adm. Ex. 22, 23; Tr. 44-50).

In July 2004, after Ms. Calhoun paid Respondent, her and her children were evicted from her house and her house was sold in a sheriff's sale. Ms. Calhoun stated that she came home from work and all of her belongings were placed in the street. Ms. Calhoun stated that Respondent did not tell about the eviction. Ms. Calhoun had to find shelter and storage for her belongings. Ms. Calhoun stated that she was upset as well as her children. Ms. Calhoun tried to contact Respondent but he did not answer or return her calls. Ms. Calhoun stated that she went to

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Respondent's office and he was never there. She sent Respondent letters and Respondent did not respond. (Tr. 50-51).

Ms. Calhoun stated that a month later, August 2004, she went to Respondent's office and he was there. Ms. Calhoun spoke to Respondent and he said he would give her the investment money back. When Ms. Calhoun when to Respondent's office to receive her money, Respondent left out his back office door and never returned. Ms. Calhoun has not received a refund of her $6,500 investment or the $2,500 in legal fees. Ms. Calhoun stated that she was treated by a doctor for her anxiety and headaches. Ms. Calhoun stated that she lost a family home she had purchased from her parents. (Tr. 51-52).

Eva Tripplett

Eva Tripplett is an office clerk at the Department of Human Services. In September 2003, Ms. Tripplett retained Respondent to represent her in a claim for damages that arose from her eviction from an apartment. Respondent told Ms. Tripplett that he would file a suit in Municipal court on her behalf. Ms. Tripplett provided Respondent with her original paperwork, including cancelled checks and lease. Ms. Tripplett paid Respondent $750 for services related to the damages suit. Ms. Tripplett stated that Respondent looked up the eviction information and explained to her why she had a valid claim. (Adm. Ex. 5; Tr. 53-55).

In October 2004, Ms. Tripplett asked Respondent to represent her in matters regarding two traffic tickets she received in September 2004. Respondent agreed to represent Ms. Tripplett for $100. In January 2005, Ms. Tripplett paid Respondent $50. Ms. Tripplett wrote Respondent a letter in March 2005 which stated that she would pay the remaining $50 on March 25, 2005 in court. Respondent did not appear in court in March 2005. Ms. Tripplett stated that she had to hire another attorney and pay more legal fees. Ms. Tripplett stated that she tried to contact Respondent on several occasions. Ms. Tripplett stated that she could not file a claim for the

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eviction matter because Respondent had her original documents. Respondent has not returned her documents or her money. Ms. Tripplett stated that her experience with Respondent has changed the way she views the legal profession. (Adm. Ex. 5, 6; Tr. 55-62).

Robert Thompson

Robert Thompson has been retired from the Chicago Transit Authority since 1998. In March 2003, Mr. Thompson hired Respondent to represent him in a claim against the IRS. Mr. Thompson paid Respondent $500 of the $1,000 total fee charged by Respondent. Mr. Thompson gave Respondent all the original tax forms and documents pertinent to his claim. Mr. Thompson stated that Respondent told him that he would file a claim on his behalf. Respondent also told Mr. Thompson that the IRS offered to settle the case for $52,000. Mr. Thompson told Respondent that he was not ready to settle because he wanted to make sure all the issues and parties involved were being looked at by Respondent. Respondent told Mr. Thompson that he would get back to him in a week. Respondent did contact Mr. Thompson and told him that there were other parties to include in the lawsuit. (Tr. 62-67).

Mr. Thompson stated that he spoke with Respondent two weeks later regarding the filing of his suit and the outstanding balance of legal fees. Mr. Thompson stated that that was the last time he heard from Respondent. Mr. Thompson testified that he tried calling Respondent but there was never any response. Mr. Thompson also went to Respondent's office but never saw Respondent. Respondent did not refund Mr. Thompson's $500 and he did not return the original documents. Mr. Thompson was never able to file his suit against the IRS. Mr. Thompson stated that he cannot afford to pay another attorney. (Tr. 67-68, 70-71).

Aviel Williams

Aviel Williams owns a company called Executive Janitorial Services. Mr. Williams stated that he hired Respondent to represent him on prior occasions. In October 2004, Mr.

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Williams hired Respondent to represent him in matters related to a landlord/tenant dispute. Respondent told Mr. Williams that he would file the proper paperwork to vacate a judgment ordered against Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams paid Respondent $400. (Adm. Ex. 7; Tr. 73).

Mr. Williams stated that he did not hear from Respondent so he called Respondent and left a message. Respondent returned one of his calls. Mr. Williams stated that he could not leave a message because Respondent's voice mailbox was full. On March 3, 2005, Mr. Williams sent a letter to Respondent because he was not able to reach him by phone. Mr. Williams does not recall if Respondent responded to his letter. Mr. Williams stated that he received $100 in the mail. There was no letter attached to the payment. Mr. Williams stated that Respondent did not return the documents that he provided. (Adm. Ex. 8; Tr. 75-77).

John Cesario

John Cesario is senior counsel for the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission ("ARDC"). Mr. Cesario works in the intake group. Mr. Cesario is also responsible for receivership matters. In June 2006, Mr. Cesario filed an emergency ex parte petition to appoint the Administrator of the ARDC the Receiver of the records and files of Respondent. Mr. Cesario stated that he investigated the circumstances of the complaints filed against Respondent and filed an emergency petition because he had several concerns. Mr. Cesario stated that the landlord of the office space that Respondent used wrote a letter to the ARDC and explained that Respondent had not been to his office in months and had not paid the rent. The landlord wanted to rent the space to someone else but there were files and records left in the office. Mr. Cesario obtained an order appointing the Administrator receiver. (Adm. Ex. 26; Tr. 79-81).

Mr. Cesario stated that the last year that Respondent registered to practice law in Illinois was 2005. Mr. Cesario stated that his investigator made numerous efforts to try to locate Respondent. Mr. Cesario stated that those efforts were unsuccessful. Mr. Cesario stated that he

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removed approximately 45 boxes of documents and records from Respondent's office. Mr. Cesario made an inventory of the documents and sent over 600 letters to all known clients informing them about the documents. Mr. Cesario also made arrangements for the U.S. Postal Service to forward any mail addressed to Respondent sent to the ARDC. The landlord also referred people who were looking for Respondent to the ARDC. Finally, Mr. Cesario placed advertisements in local newspapers to inform clients to contact the ARDC. (Tr. 81-84).

Mr. Cesario stated that he filed the final report to conclude the receivership in June 2007. Mr. Cesario stated that he was never able to communicate with Respondent. Mr. Cesario stated that the ARDC incurred significant costs as a result of the receivership. Mr. Cesario estimated that he worked 45 to 90 hours on the receivership. (Adm. Ex. 26; Tr. 84-86).

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

In attorney disciplinary proceedings the Administrator has the burden of proving the charges of misconduct by clear and convincing evidence. In re Ingersoll, 186 Ill.2d 163, 710 N.E.2d 390, 393 (1999). Clear and convincing evidence constitutes a high level of certainty, which is greater than a preponderance of the evidence but less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Williams, 143 Ill.2d 477, 577 N.E.2d 762 (1991).

Having considered the seven-count First Amended Complaint, the failure of Respondent to appear or participate in these proceedings in any manner, the order of April 18, 2007 by which the allegations of the First Amended Complaint were deemed admitted, the testimony stated by the witnesses, and the evidence submitted by the Administrator and admitted at the hearing, we find by clear and convincing evidence that Respondent engaged in the acts alleged and committed the following misconduct as charged in the First Amended Complaint:

  1. Failure to abide by a client's decision whether to accept an offer of settlement in violation of Rule 1.2(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (Count I);

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  1. Failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client in violation of Rule 1.3 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (Counts I, II, III, IV, V);

  2. Failure to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter or promptly comply with requests for information in violation of Rule 1.4(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (Counts I, II, III, IV, V);

  3. Failure to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation in violation of Rule 1.4(b) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (Counts I, II, III, IV, VII);

  4. Failure to make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client in violation of Rule 3.2 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (Count I, II, V);

  5. Engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (Counts I, II, VII);

  6. Engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (Counts I, II, III, IV,V, VII);

  7. Engaging in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute, in violation of Supreme Court 770 (Counts I, II, III, IV,V, VII);

  8. Failure to promptly refund any part of a fee in advance that has not been earned in violation of Rule 1.16(e) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (Counts III, IV, V);

  9. Failure to respond to a lawful demand for information from the Commission in violation of Rule 8.1(a)(2) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (Count VI);

  10. Engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct by failing to comply with Commission Rule 53 (Count VI);

  11. Overreaching the attorney-client relationship (Count VII);

  12. Breaching fiduciary obligations that Respondent owed to clients Bokios, the Turners and Calhoun (Count VII);

  13. Entering into business transactions with clients when the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the lawyer and the clients have or may have

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conflicting interests therein, without adequate disclosure and consent of the client, in violation of Rule 1.8(a)(1) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (Count VII); and

  1. Entering into business transactions with clients when the client expects the lawyer to exercise the lawyer's professional judgment therein for the protection of the clients, without adequate disclosure and consent of the clients, in violation of Rule 1.8(a)(2) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (Count VII).

RECOMMENDATION

The purpose of the disciplinary system is to protect the public, maintain the integrity of the legal system and safeguard the administration of justice. In re Howard, 188 Ill. 2d 423, 434, 721 N.E.2d 1126 (1999). The objective of a disciplinary inquiry is not punishment. Instead, the purpose is to determine whether an individual should be permitted to engage in the practice of law. In re Smith , 168 Ill. 2d 269, 295, 659 N.E.2d 896 (1995). Furthermore, an attorney has a duty to cooperate with the Administrator and evidence of such cooperation is relevant in determining a disciplinary sanction. In re Samuals, 126 Ill. 2d 509, 531, 535 N.E.2d 808 (1989). In determining the proper sanction, we consider the proven misconduct along with any aggravating and mitigating factors. In re Witt, 145 Ill. 2d 380, 398, 583 N.E.2d 526 (1991).

The Supreme Court defines a pattern of neglect as agreement to represent a client, acceptance of fees or money for costs, neglect in performing and completing legal services, and inaccessibility to a client. In re Taylor, 66 Ill. 2d 567, 572, 363 N.E.2d 845 (1977). The Supreme Court has further stated that negligence alone warrants the sanction of suspension. In re Schneider, 98 Ill. 2d 215, 226, 456 N.E.2d 2 (1983). When coupled with a respondent's more egregious misconduct, disbarment is required in order to maintain the integrity of the legal profession and protect the administration of justice. Id.

The Administrator has recommended that the Respondent be disbarred. We adopt this recommendation given the nature of the Respondent's misconduct, the presence of several

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aggravating factors and the lack of any mitigating factors. In support of a recommendation for disbarment, the Administrator offered the following cases: In re Triplett, In re Roytenberg, In re Neuman, In re Zdon, In re Loker and In re Steinke.

In an eight-count complaint, the respondent in In re Triplett was charged with conversion, neglecting four client matters, failing to return unearned fees and failing to respond to the Administrator's requests for information. In re Triplett, 05 CH 67, M.R. 21016 (September 20, 2006). After considering the egregious misconduct, significant evidence in aggravation and the respondent's failure to participate in the disciplinary proceedings, the Hearing Board recommended that the respondent be disbarred. The Supreme Court approved their recommendation.

In In re Roytenberg, the respondent neglected client matters, converted funds, failed to return unearned fees and failed to respond to the Administrator's requests for information. The respondent did not participate in the hearing. Based on the proven misconduct, aggravating evidence and the respondent's failure to participate in the disciplinary proceedings, the Hearing Board recommended, and the Supreme Court approved, disbarment. In re Roytenberg, 04 CH 48, M.R. 20155 (May 20, 2005).

The respondent in In re Neuman was charged with neglect, incompetent representation, failure to return unearned fees and failure to cooperate with the Administrator. The respondent did not participate in the disciplinary proceedings. The Hearing Board recommended that the respondent be disbarred based on the proven misconduct, evidence of harm suffered by the respondent's clients and the respondent's failure to participate in the hearing. The Supreme Court approved the recommendation. In re Neuman, 02 CH 21, M.R. 19255 (March 15, 2004).

In In re Zdon, 03 CH 96, M.R. 19710 (November 17, 2004), the respondent was charged with neglecting four clients, failing to return unearned fees and failing to cooperate with the

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Commission's requests for information. There, the Hearing Board determined that the respondent engaged in a pattern of neglect and abandoned his practice. The Hearing Board stated that the egregious misconduct proves that the respondent was unable or unwilling to meet the professional standards requisite of the Illinois State Bar. The Hearing Board recommended that the respondent be disbarred. The Supreme Court agreed.

The respondent in In re Loker, 03 CH 91, M.R. 19618 (September 27, 2004), was found guilty of neglect, failing to return unearned fees and failing to cooperate with the Administrator's requests for information. The respondent did not participate in the disciplinary proceedings. Based on the findings that the respondent abandoned his practice, failed to appear for the hearing and the evidence submitted in aggravation, the Hearing Board recommended that the respondent be disbarred. The Supreme Court approved the recommendation.

Finally, a five-count complaint was filed against the respondent in In re Steinke. In re Steinke, 97 CH 92, M.R. 14730 (May 27, 1998). There, the Hearing Board found that the respondent had abandoned his practice, neglected a number of cases, failed to communicate with his clients, failed to take reasonable steps to avoid prejudice to his client's rights and failed to cooperate in his own disciplinary proceedings. Based on those findings, the Hearing Board recommended that the respondent be disbarred, which the Illinois Supreme Court approved.

We also find the following case instructive in this matter:

In In re Tuckey, 96 CH 512, M.R. 13408 (March 21, 1997) the respondent was found to have neglected two clients, failed to return unearned fees and made a false statement to the ARDC. In addition, the respondent did not participate in the disciplinary proceedings. The Hearing Panel found that the respondent engaged in a pattern of neglect in handling client matters and failed to communicate with his clients. The Hearing Panel stated that such neglect and failure to communicate is grave misconduct due to its potential for severe harm to clients.

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There, the respondent not only neglected his clients' matters and failed to communicate with them but also failed to return unearned fees. The Hearing Board recommended that the respondent be disbarred which the Illinois Supreme Court approved.

In the present case, Respondent has abandoned his law practice, neglected client matters, failed to keep his clients reasonably informed and failed to return unearned fees. In addition, Respondent failed to cooperate with the Administrator's multiple requests for information and found guilty of overreaching and fraud relating to three of his clients. In aggravation, Respondent's clients testified to the emotional and financial harm Respondent's misconduct caused them. Several clients were evicted from their homes without notice. Respondent failed to participate in the disciplinary proceeding. Finally, it was necessary for the Administrator to file an emergency motion for appointment of receivership in order to receive Respondent's files, records and correspondence to assist Respondent's current clients. Based on the foregoing, we recommend that Respondent be disbarred from the practice of law.

Date Entered:  November 1, 2007

James B. Pritikin, Chair, with Nam H. Paik and David A. Dattilo.