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

In the Matter of:

AARON RAY ISAACSON,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No. 6296801.

 

Commission No.  2011PR00062 

FILED -  June 13, 2011

COMPLAINT

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, Aaron Ray Isaacson, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on November 6, 2008, 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
(Possessing and using marijuana while employed as an Assistant State's Attorney)

1. At all times alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 550/9, which provided, in part:

(b) For the purposes of this section, a person engages in a calculated criminal cannabis conspiracy when:

(1) he [knowingly possesses between 30 and 2000 grams of cannabis]; and

(2) such violation is a part of a conspiracy undertaken or carried on with 2 or more other persons; and

(3) he obtains anything of value greater than $500 from, or organizes, directs or finances such violation or conspiracy.

2. At all times alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 550/4, which provided, in part:

It is unlawful for any person knowingly to possess cannabis. Any person who violates this section with respect to:

(g) more than 5,000 grams of any substance containing cannabis is guilty of a Class 1 felony.

3. At all times alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 600/3.5, which provided, in part:

Possession of drug paraphernalia.  (a) A person who knowingly possesses an item of drug paraphernalia with the intent to use it in ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing cannabis or a controlled substance into the human body, or in preparing cannabis or a controlled substance for that use, is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for which the court shall impose a minimum fine of $750 in addition to any other penalty prescribed for a Class A misdemeanor.

4. At all times alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 5/31-4, which provided, in part:

Obstructing justice. A person obstructs justice when, with intent to prevent the apprehension or obstruct the prosecution or defense of any person, he knowingly commits any of the following acts:

(a) Destroys, alters, conceals or disguises physical evidence, plants false evidence, [or] furnishes false information.

5. Between 2006 and mid-2008, while Respondent was in law school, Respondent saw his friend, Ryan Yoselowitz ("Yoselowitz"), distribute marijuana and purchase marijuana for distribution on at least 40 occasions out of Yoselowitz' mother's home. During that same period of time, Respondent smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine with Yoselowitz.

6. In October 2008, Respondent and Yoselowitz decided to become roommates. Shortly thereafter, Respondent received notice that he had been successful on the Illinois bar examination, and Respondent applied for an assistant state's attorney position at the Lake County State's Attorney's Office.

7. On November 6, 2008, Respondent was admitted to practice law in Illinois.

8. In late November 2008, Respondent and Yoselowitz entered into a lease agreement to rent a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath townhouse with a two-car garage and rooftop deck, located on North Stave Street in Chicago. The monthly rent was $2,800. Respondent's agreement with Yoselowitz was that Respondent would be responsible for $800 of the rent and Yoselowitz would be responsible for $2,000 of the rent. At the time that Respondent and Yoselowitz entered into the lease agreement, or shortly thereafter, Respondent knew that Yoselowitz was not employed, except as a drug dealer.

9. Respondent physically moved into the Stave Street apartment at the end of November 2008, and Yoselowitz moved into the Stave Street home in late December 2008.

10. On January 5, 2009, Respondent began working as an assistant state's attorney at the Lake County State's Attorney's Office, and was paid a yearly salary of approximately $54,000. Respondent's responsibilities as an assistant state's attorney included prosecuting criminal defendants for possession of controlled substances.

11. By at least the end of January 2009, and until May 2009, Respondent knew that Yoselowitz distributed marijuana from the Stave Street apartment. During that period of time, Respondent knew that Yoselowitz kept marijuana, glass pipes, and scales in Yoselowitz' bedroom, the apartment's kitchen cabinets, and the apartment's living room.

12. Between January and May 2009, Respondent witnessed approximately 25 drug deals between Yoselowitz and various individuals at their apartment. Respondent also used marijuana with Yoselowitz and other people Respondent knew to be drug dealers and purchasers on more than one occasion, and, on at least one occasion between January and May 2009, Respondent organized money from a drug deal by sorting the bills in a certain order and facing the same way.

13. Between January and May 2009, Respondent learned details of Yoselowitz' drug enterprise, including the amounts of money owed to Yoselowitz by various drug purchasers, and the amounts of money owed by Yoselowitz to various drug suppliers.

14. On or about May 6, 2009, Yoselowitz was arrested in McLean County, Illinois, while transporting 23 pounds of marijuana in his car. The police who arrested Yoselowitz found Respondent's business card from the Lake County State's Attorney's Office in Yoselowitz' wallet.

15. Shortly after Yoselowitz' arrest, Respondent received a text message on his cellular telephone from one of Yoselowitz drug distributors that said "Dude RY guy might be in trouble, he said he saw cherries & took off. Do you have skinny Ryan's #?" After receiving the message, Respondent contacted every jail between Lake and McLean Counties looking for Yoselowitz and identifying himself as an assistant state's attorney.

16. Respondent identified himself as an assistant state's attorney when making telephone calls to the jails, referred to in paragraph 15, above, in order to get access to information that would not be available to those outside of the law enforcement community.

17. On the evening of Yoselowitz' arrest, the Illinois State Police searched the Stave Street apartment and found 12 pounds of vacuum-sealed marijuana scattered throughout the apartment, including the kitchen cabinets and the living room. The police also found less than one gram of cocaine, a handgun, and several smoking devices and scales. Two marijuana pipes were found in Respondent's bedroom.

18. Respondent knew, or should have known, that the items the police found in his apartment, as described in paragraph 17, above, were in the apartment, and that their possession was in violation of 720 ILCS 550/4 and 720 ILCS 600/3.5.

19. Later the same evening, Respondent was contacted by the Illinois State Police, who asked Respondent to meet them to answer questions. While Respondent was being questioned by the police, Respondent informed the police that he had no knowledge of Yoselowitz distributing marijuana.

20. Respondent's statement to the police, that he had no knowledge of Yoselowitz distributing marijuana was false, and Respondent knew it was false, because he had witnessed Yoselowitz engage in drug transactions approximately 25 times between January and May 2009; because Respondent had participated in using drugs with Yoselowitz and others involved in drug transactions on several occasions between January and May 2009; because Respondent knew that drugs were stored in various locations throughout the townhouse; and because Respondent had participated in organizing money from a drug transaction on at least one occasion during that period of time.

21. The following morning at work, Respondent met with his supervisors, First Assistant State's Attorney Jeffrey Pavletic ("Pavletic"), and Chief of Traffic Division Eric Kalata ("Kalata"), at the Lake County State's Attorney's Office regarding Yoselowitz' arrest. During that meeting, Respondent informed his supervisors that he had no knowledge of, and no involvement in, Yoselowitz' drug activity.

22. Respondent's statement to Pavletic and Kalata, that he had no knowledge of or involvement in Yoselowitz' drug activity, was false, and Respondent knew it was false, because Respondent had witnessed approximately 25 drug transactions between Yoselowitz and others between January and May 2009; because Respondent had participated in using drugs with Yoselowitz and others involved in drug transactions on several occasions between January and May 2009; because Respondent knew that drugs were stored in various locations throughout the townhouse; and because Respondent had participated in organizing money from a drug transaction on at least one occasion during that period of time.

23. On May 15, 2009, following an investigation by the Lake County State's Attorney's Office, Respondent was asked to resign due to his involvement in drug activity with Yoselowitz, as well as his dishonesty regarding his knowledge of, and involvement in, Yoselowitz' drug activity when questioned by Pavletic and Kalata.

24. On July 20, 2009, Respondent was granted immunity from criminal prosecution by the McLean County State's Attorney's Office in exchange for his agreement to testify against Yoselowitz.

25. On October 26, 2009, Yoselowitz pled guilty to possession of cannabis with intent to deliver, and, on March 25, 2010, Yoselowitz was sentenced to twelve years in the Department of Corrections. As a result of Yoselowitz' guilty plea, Respondent was not required to testify against Yoselowitz.

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

  1. committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, in violation Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, engaging in a calculated cannabis conspiracy in violation of 720 ILCS 550/9;

  2. committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, in violation Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, by possessing cannabis in violation of 720 ILCS 550/4;

  3. committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, in violation Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, by possessing drug paraphernalia in violation of 720 ILCS 600/3.5;

  4. committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, in violation Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, by obstructing justice in violation of 720 ILCS 5/31-4;

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

  6. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.5(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990); and

  7. conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to 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

Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By: Lea S. Black