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

In the Matter of:

OLUFEMI F. NICOL,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No.  6225736.

 

Commission No.  2010PR00016

FILED -  March 8, 2010

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Marita C. Sullivan, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753, complains of Respondent, Olufemi F. Nicol, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on November 10, 1994, and alleges that Respondent has engaged in the following conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute:

COUNT I
(Avoiding in Bad Faith the Repayment of Education Loans Guaranteed
by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission)

1. In 1994, Respondent received his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. On November 10, 1994, Respondent was licensed to practice law in Illinois.

2. Between 1994 and 1997, Respondent was an associate attorney at the law firm of Ross & Hardies in Chicago. Between 1997 and 1999, Respondent was an associate attorney at the law firm of Schiff, Hardin & Waite in Chicago. Between 2000 and 2006, Respondent was employed in job positions in business, including President of Gear 7 in Los Angeles from 2003 until 2005.

3. In or about June 2005, Respondent began attending graduate business school at the University of Chicago.

4. Between June and December 2005, to assist him in payment of the costs of obtaining his graduate business degree, Respondent applied for and received education loans in the amount of $78,483. The loans were guaranteed by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission ("ISAC"), d/b/a as the Illinois Designated Account Purchase Program ("IDAPP"). Respondent received the funds on the following dates and in the following amounts:

DISBURSEMENT DATE

AMOUNT

June 21, 2005

$2,125.00

June 21, 2005

$2,500.00

June 23, 2005

$38,661.00

September 14, 2005

$2,500.00

September 14, 2005

$2,125.00

September 14, 2005

$10,661.00

December 23, 2005

$2,500.00

December 23, 2005

$2,125.00

December 23, 2005

$10,661.00

March 18, 2006

$2,125.00

March 18, 2006

$2,500.00

                                                    TOTAL: $78,483.00

5. Respondent signed two promissory notes, both dated June 6, 2005, to secure the loans set forth in paragraph 4 above. In each note, Respondent promised to pay the lender all loan amounts disbursed under the terms of the promissory notes.

6. In or about March 2006, Respondent stopped attending graduate business school at the University of Chicago.

7. In or about September 2006, ISAC began issuing monthly billing statements to Respondent to initiate Respondent's repayment of the education loans described in paragraph four above, and notified Respondent that his first monthly payment of $733.84 was due on October 1, 2006. Respondent received the monthly billing statements shortly after they were mailed to him.

8. Respondent did not pay his first monthly payment of $733.84 on October 1, 2006, or any other time.

9. As of December 2006, Respondent had made no payments towards his loan obligation to ISAC. In or about December 2006, ISAC and IDAAP began contacting Respondent by letter, e-mail, and telephone, asking Respondent to begin repaying his education loans to ISAC. Respondent received the letters and e-mails sent to him and the telephone messages left for him, but did not respond to ISAC or IDAPP.

10. On April 30, 2007, Respondent began working as an associate attorney in the corporate and securities group at the law firm of DLA Piper in Chicago. Respondent's starting salary at DLA Piper was $190,000.

11. As of August 31, 2007, Respondent had made no payments towards his loan obligation to ISAC, and as of that time his account was 272 days past due. On that date, Respondent requested a one-time administrative forbearance for the time period December 1, 2006 to December 1, 2007, which ISAC granted. The administrative forbearance brought Respondent's account current, and also gave him a reprieve from loan payments until December 31, 2007.

12. On December 31, 2007, Respondent's administrative forbearance period ended. As a result, Respondent's initial monthly payment of $733.84 became due on January 1, 2008.

13. On January 1, 2008, DLA Piper increased Respondent's annual salary to $220,000.

14. On February 1, 2008, DLA Piper paid Respondent a bonus of $14,841.27.

15. Between January 2008 and September 2009, ISAC and IDAAP issued Respondent monthly billing statements, and continued to regularly send letters to collect Respondent's outstanding loan debts to ISAC, which amounted to $30,341.09 as of September 2009. Respondent received the monthly billing statements and letters sent to him, but did not respond to them.

16. Between January 2008 and September 2009, ISAC and IDAPP continued to make regular telephone attempts to collect Respondent's outstanding loan debts to ISAC. Respondent received the telephone messages left for him, but did not return the calls. Between January 2008 and September 2009, ISAC and IDAPP continued to send e-mails to collect Respondent's outstanding loan debts to ISAC. Respondent received the e-mails sent to him, but did not respond to them.

17. On February 14, 2009, DLA Piper terminated Respondent's employment with the firm. As part of Respondent's severance agreement, DLA Piper continued to pay Respondent at the same rate until May 30, 2009.

18. As of March 3, 2010, the date the Inquiry Board voted to file this complaint against Respondent, Respondent had not made any payment towards the $78,483 in outstanding education debts he owed ISAC, nor had he requested or received any deferral or forbearances beyond that mentioned in paragraph ten, above.

19. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. avoiding in bad faith the repayment of an education loan guaranteed by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission or other governmental entity in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(8) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  3. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.

COUNT II
(Failure to Respond to a Lawful Demand for Information)

20. On May 18, 2009, the Administrator received a request from Ezekiel Majek of ISAC/IDAPP to investigate Respondent's failure to repay his education loans, and failure to respond to IDAPP's attempts to contact him regarding his outstanding balance. After reviewing the materials submitted by Majek in support of his request, the Administrator initiated investigation number 09-CI-2068.

21. On June 16, 2009, Althea K. Welsh, Counsel for the Administrator, sent a letter to Respondent requesting that Respondent provide the Administrator with information and documents relating to Mr. Majek's charge, and describe any efforts Respondent made to cooperate with IDAPP in establishing a repayment schedule for his education loans. In addition, in her June 16th correspondence, Ms. Welsh asked Respondent to set forth his specific intentions with respect to future action to meet his loan obligations. Respondent received the letter shortly after it was mailed by the Administrator.

22. Respondent never provided any response to the June 16, 2009 letter from Ms. Welsh.

23. On July 15, 2009, August 7, 2009, and September 4, 2009, Ms. Welsh sent letters to Respondent again requesting that Respondent provide the Administrator with information and documents relating to investigation number 09-CI-2068. Respondent received the letters shortly after they were mailed by the Administrator.

24. Respondent did not provide any response to the Administrator's requests for information referred to in paragraph 23 above.

25. On October 22, 2009, the Administrator sent a subpoena duces tecum by certified mail to Respondent at Respondent's home address. The subpoena duces tecum commanded Respondent's appearance on November 13, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. at the Chicago offices of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and the production of certain documents at that time. Respondent received the Administrator's subpoena duces tecum on October 28, 2009.

26. Respondent did not appear at the Commission's Chicago office on November 13, 2009 in compliance with the Administrator's subpoena duces tecum.

27. At no time did Counsel for the Administrator excuse or waive Respondent's November 13, 2009 appearance or the production of the requested materials in response to the subpoena.

28. As of March 3, 2010, the date the Inquiry Board voted to file this complaint against Respondent, Respondent had not produced the information or documents requested in the Administrator's letters or subpoena duces tecum, nor had he appeared to provide testimony in response to the subpoena duces tecum.

29. By reason of the conduct outlined above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. failure to respond to a lawful demand for information from the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission in violation of Rule 8.1(a)(2) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  3. 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 Rule 770.

WHEREFORE, the Administrator respectfully requests that this matter be assigned to a panel of the Hearing Board, that a hearing be held pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753, and that the panel make findings of fact, conclusions of fact and law, and a recommendation for such discipline as is warranted.

 
Marita C. Sullivan
Counsel for the Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601-6219
Telephone: (312) 565-2600
Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:  Marita C. Sullivan