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

In the Matter of:

John P. Cooney,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No.  6202171

 

Commission No.   2010PR00123

 

FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Athena T. Taite, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent John P. Cooney, who was licensed to practice law in Illinois on November 9, 1989, 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:

(Dishonesty in Obtaining Health and Pension Benefits)

1. At all times alleged in this complaint, Avenue, Inc., and/or Avenue Premier Carpentry & Siding Contractors, Inc. ("Avenue"), a carpentry and siding contractor in Illinois, employed Respondent as an attorney. At no time did Avenue employ Respondent as a carpenter. During the times alleged in this complaint, Respondent did not work as a carpenter.

2. At all times alleged in this complaint, Avenue was a party to a collective bargaining agreement concerning United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America ("UBC"). Avenue employed carpenters who were eligible to receive health and pension benefits related to the collective bargaining agreement.

3. In or about December 2003, Frank Dimperio, a principal of Avenue, directed Respondent to seek health and pension benefits at UBC's Will County Carpenters Local 174 ("Local 174").

4. About January 6, 2004, Respondent went to Local 174 for the purpose of applying for health and pension benefits. In connection with his application for health and pension benefits, Respondent received a UBC membership application titled "United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Membership Application." The UBC membership application had a section requiring an applicant to mark or affirm a specific craft ("the craft section"). The craft section had ten choices: Carpenter, Diver, Federal Government, Industrial, Lather, Local Government, Millwright, Piledriver, Resilient Floorlayer and State Government. The UBC membership application included the following statements over a line for the applicant's signature:

And I further agree that if, at any time, it should be discovered that I have made misstatements as to my qualifications for membership - I shall be forever debarred from membership and donations in this order.
I further agree that if it is found at any time that I have made false statements of any kind on this application, that my membership shall be declared void and all monies paid by me shall be forfeited.

The only reason that Respondent completed the UBC membership application was to receive and/or qualify for health and pension benefits.

5. About January 6, 2004, Respondent signed the UBC membership application, knowing that the UBC membership application was for membership in a union representing crafts, none of which he practiced. Respondent returned the UBC membership application to Local 174 along with his payment of a $300 initiation fee.

6. At all times between January 6, 2004, and December 12, 2008, Respondent maintained his union membership as a carpenter.

7. Respondent's UBC membership application and union membership, as described above in paragraphs four, five and six, were false and misleading, and Respondent knew or reasonably should have known that they were false and misleading, because Respondent was not a carpenter or any craftsman listed in the craft section of the UBC membership application and Respondent only completed the UBC membership application and maintained his union membership in order to receive union health and pension benefits to which he was not entitled.

8. Respondent applied for UBC membership and maintained UBC membership from January 6, 2004, to December 12, 2008, in order to receive union health and pension benefits to which he was not entitled because he was not a member of or employed in a craft qualifying for union membership and benefits.

9. Between January 6, 2004, and December 12, 2008, Respondent received union health and pension benefits through Will County Carpenters Local 174 Welfare Fund and Pension Fund. Will County Carpenters Local 174 Welfare Fund paid at least $130,000 in medical and prescription claims for Respondent and his family.

10. Respondent was not properly a member of UBC or Local 174 and was not entitled to the benefits described above in paragraph nine.

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

  1. conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the 1990 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  2. conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or legal profession into disrepute, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.

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

 

Athena T. Taite
Counsel for the Administrator
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Telephone: (312) 565-2600
Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:   Athena T. Taite