BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
In the Matter of:
Commission No. 2011PR00042
FILED - May 10, 2011
Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Lea S. Black, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent, Paul Ambrose Rathburn, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on January 7, 1992, 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:
(Gaining access to property through false statements)
1. On or about November 1, 2004, the Illinois General's Office filed a complaint in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Lake County against James P. and James A. Onan, Onan and Onan, Inc., Onan Construction Company, Inc., and Onan Senior Suites, Inc., the owners and developer of Onan Senior Suites, a condominium building for seniors that was located in Waukegan, Illinois. The complaint alleged that Onan Senior Suites was not accessible to people with disabilities, in violation of the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act, 410 ILCS 25/1, et seq., the Illinois Accessibility Code, 71 Ill. Admin.Code § 400.110, et seq., and the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Acto of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619. The clerk of the court docketed the matter as People v. Onan, 04 CH 1630.
2. At all times alleged in this complaint, the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act, 410 ILCS 25/1, et seq., applied to multi-story housing units, which were defined as "any building of 4 or more stories containing 10 or more dwelling units constructed to be held out for sale or lease by any person to the public."
3. On or about November 30, 2004, Peter Nordigian filed his appearance on behalf of the defendants, James P. and James A. Onan, Onan and Onan, Inc., Onan Construction Company, Inc., and Onan Senior Suites, Inc.
4. In October 2007, and at all times thereafter alleged in this complaint, Respondent was a senior Assistant Attorney General at the Illinois Attorney General's Office in the Public Interest Division of the Disability Rights Bureau, and represented the Attorney General, along with attorney Erin Ipjian ("Ipjian"), in case number 04 CH 1630.
5. Because the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act required that buildings be at least four stories for the Act to apply, on or about March 18, 2008, Respondent developed a plan to visit Onan Senior Suites to determine whether the garage level of Onan Senior Suites could be viewed as a storey, thereby bringing the building within the scope of the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act.
6. On or about March 18, 2008, Respondent, Ipjian, and Jamie Frankic-Berkett, a Disability Specialist for the Disability Rights Bureau, visited Onan Senior Suites, to determine whether the building was accessible to people with disabilities and to determine whether the garage was finished or unfinished. Prior to arriving on March 18, 2008, Respondent had informed Ipjian that they would only view areas of the building that were open to members of the public. Although Respondent and Ipjian had appeared in court in relation to case number 04 CH 1630 on March 18, 2008, and Respondent knew that Mr. Nordigian represented the defendants in that matter, Respondent did not give Mr. Nordigian notice of his intention to visit Onan Super Suites that day, nor did he otherwise inform Mr. Nordigian of his plan to view the garage for purposes of determining whether it could be considered a storey for purposes of the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act.
7. Upon arriving to Onan Senior Suites on March 18, 2008, and discovering that the doors to the building were locked, Respondent rang the doorbell and informed the building manager that he and Ipjian were siblings, and that they were interested in viewing the building because Respondent's grandmother was interested in moving there from Wisconsin.
8. Respondent's statements to the building manager, as described in paragraph seven, above, were false, and Respondent knew they were false, because Respondent and Ipjian are not siblings and because Respondent's grandmother was not interested in moving to the building from Wisconsin. His statements were intended to induce the building manager to give Respondent and Ipjian access to areas of the building that were not open to the public, so that Respondent could gain information to assist him in proving his theory that the Onan building was not accessible to people with disabilities.
9. At no time did Respondent inform the building manager that he and Ipjian were the attorneys prosecuting the case against the owners of Onan Senior Suites, case number 04 CH 1630.
10. Based upon the information that Respondent provided to the building manager regarding his grandmother's purported desire to move to the building, the building manager showed Respondent and Ipjian areas of the building that were not accessible to the public, including the basement, a one-bedroom unit, and a two-bedroom unit.
11. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:
making a statement of material fact or law to a third person which statement the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is false, in violation of Rule 4.1 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990);
using methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of a person, in violation of Rule 4.4(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990);
conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990);
conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990); and
conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or the bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute, in violation of Illinois 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.
Lea S. Black
Counsel for the Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601-6219
Telephone: (312) 565-2600