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

In the Matter of:

TAMARA ANN TANZILLO,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No.  6196864.

 

Commission No.   2011PR00132

FILED -  November 15, 2011

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Marcia Topper Wolf, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent Tamara Ann Tanzillo ("Respondent"), who was licensed to practice law in Illinois on November 5, 1987, 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
(Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Conduct involving Dishonesty, Fraud, Deceit
or Misrepresentation in employment as Chief of Staff of HFS)

1. Respondent was a state employee for approximately 20 years, and had been employed at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) since 2000. Respondent began her tenure at HFS as a staff attorney. In 2004, she was promoted to Chief of Rules, organizing administrative rules that were implemented as a result of new or changing law or changes of rules because of changes of procedure within HFS. Respondent maintained the responsibilities related to her position as Chief of Rules but received promotions to Chief of Administration and Rules and finally Chief of Staff, a position she held until was discharged on or about November 20, 2009. At all times alleged in this complaint, Respondent was employed as the Chief of Staff of HFS.

2. At all times relevant to this complaint, HFS had a personnel policy which provided for discipline for repeated and excessive tardiness or absenteeism and prohibited falsification or misrepresentation of information on, inter alia, timesheets and travel vouchers (HFS Employee Handbook, Sections 605.1 A. 2, 605. 1 A. 10 respectively). In violation of those policies, Respondent falsified her timesheets by, inter alia, repeatedly arriving late for work while sending misleading and false emails to subordinate staff in an effort to mask her time abuse. For example, on May 29, 2008, Respondent contacted her assistant by email at approximately 11:21 a.m. and told her to advise the Director of HFS that Respondent was at lunch and available by phone and would be arriving at work soon. Respondent left her Springfield apartment at 12:25 p.m. and arrived at work at 12:35 p.m. and left work at approximately 6:25 p.m. On her timesheet, Respondent reported that she worked from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. without a lunch break.

4. During 2008, in violation of HFS's personnel policy, Respondent also falsified her travel vouchers by, inter alia, providing false and misleading entries regarding her departure and arrival times. For example, on May 27, 2008, Respondent falsified a travel voucher when she recorded that she left Chicago at 5:00 a.m. and arrived in Springfield at 9:00 a.m. On this date, Respondent was not in Chicago.She was in Springfield, where she moved her state vehicle outside her apartment at 7:50 a.m. to a different parking meter near her apartment. She arrived at her Springfield office at approximately 10:22 a.m.

5. On May 22, 2008, Respondent used a state vehicle for personal purposes. On that date, Respondent used her state vehicle to shop at Dicks Sporting Goods and T.J. Maxx, and sent an email to a subordinate at HFS claiming that she was "on the road." Respondent then falsified her timesheet when she reported her hours of work as 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on that date, with no lunch break, although she had been doing personal shopping during the time she claimed she was working.

6. During 2008, in violation of HFS's Internet Usage and Data Security Administration Policies (HFS Employee Handbook, Section 635, 3.9.2 and 3.9.3), which permit use of internet access only for business purposes and not for personal use, Respondent used her computer for personal use, including displaying sexually explicit material and nude photos of herself and others, despite having been warned to cease the use of her computer for those purposes. Prior to May of 2008, Respondent was warned by the HFS Inspector General that she was to cease using her Chicago and Springfield computers for personal matters. Notwithstanding the warning, forensic examinations in May and June of 2008 and February of 2009 confirmed that Respondent continued to utilize the computers for personal matters, including the display of images of nudity and strong sexual content.

7. HFS rules provides that "(A)ll department staff are required to cooperate with any internal investigation…" Moreover, HFS employees "must immediately report all instances of alleged or suspected employee misconduct to the Office of Inspector General's Bureau of Internal Affairs" (HFS Employee Handbook, Section 610.4). Notwithstanding this policy, Respondent failed to participate in an investigatory interview, appear for disciplinary meetings or cooperate with HFS Internal Affairs between February 2009 and October 2009.

8. Respondent also failed to report the misconduct of other employees, similar to her own, despite representing to HFS that she had such information. On or about March 16, 2009, Respondent threatened the HFS Inspector General that if the investigation into her misconduct was not discontinued and any disciplinary actions were taken, she would report her knowledge of the misconduct of other HFS employees in accordance with agency and ethics policies. Although reminded in writing of her obligation to report such misconduct by the HFS Inspector General, Respondent failed to report any such misconduct. Thus, Respondent either violated the policy requiring her to report such misconduct or, alternatively, attempted to use the threat of allegations of employee misconduct as leverage to influence an internal affairs investigation.

9. On or about February 5, 2009, Respondent released information to a news publication pertaining to HFS controlled funds, which statement appeared to contradict a statement made by the Director of HFS the day before related to an ongoing criminal investigation, without seeking requisite agency approval (HFS Employee Handbook, Section 650.1).

10. Respondent's conduct, as described in paragraphs two through nine above, involved making false representations regarding her attendance at work, travel expenses and use of state resources, as well as improper dissemination of information to the news media and failure to report employee misconduct, and Respondent knew that she was making the misrepresentations or violating personnel policies at the time she took the actions.

11. HFS entered an order of discharge against Respondent on or about November 20, 2009, following an investigation by the Office of Executive Inspector General ("OEIG") that resulted in a recommendation that Respondent be discharged with no right to reinstatement. The OEIG Report also made findings against Respondent, including conduct unbecoming a State employee, falsification or misrepresentation on timesheets and travel vouchers, abuse of state resources, including computer/internet resources and state time, improper dissemination of information to the news media, failure to report employee misconduct and failure to cooperate with an internal HFS investigation. Respondent has appealed the Order of Discharge.

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

  1. breach of fiduciary duty;

  2. engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or

  3. misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of theIllinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990); and

  4. 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 Rule 770.

COUNT II
(Criminal Conduct)

13. The Administrator repeats and realleges paragraph one of Count I as paragraph 13 of this Count II, as if fully set forth herein.

14. In August, 2009, the Champaign County State's Attorney's Office filed charges against Respondent for telephone harassment (720 ILCS Sec. 135/1-1) related to a complaint made to the Rantoul police. The woman who filed the complaint ("complainant") and the Respondent were both dating the same individual. The complainant alleged that Respondent sent text messages and made telephone calls threatening to keep their mutual acquaintance from getting or keeping a job with the State of Illinois if he continued to see the complainant. The complainant further alleged that Respondent called her a "fucking bitch" and made threats against her life and advised the victim that their mutual acquaintance had taught her how to fire a gun.

15. Respondent also posted notes on Facebook that referenced the complainant and her daughter and contained a picture of Respondent and the subject of the womens' dispute, holding an assault rifle, and Respondent holding a handgun.

16. After being contacted by a Rantoul police officer and being admonished by the officer that she should not conduct herself in such a manner, Respondent stated that she did not care about her job and that the subject of her messages would never work in Illinois again.

17. The charges against Respondent were dismissed after Respondent's completion of a deferral program.

18. 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 of Rule 8.4(b) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  2. 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 Rule 770.

COUNT III
(Conduct Which Brings the Courts or The Legal Profession into Disrepute)

19. The Administrator repeats and realleges paragraph one of Count I as paragraph 19 of this Count III, as if fully set forth herein.

20. In or about July, 2007, in the early morning hours, Respondent arrived at her Springfield office building, repeatedly identified herself to the guard as the "Boss Lady" and requested entry. Respondent, who smelled strongly of alcohol, slurred her words and had difficulty standing. The guard escorted Respondent into the building where Respondent began doing a hula dance in the elevator. Respondent left the office later that morning.

21. In 2007, at an after-hours event for the opening of the Chicago office of two lobbyists, Respondent was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and fell to the floor screaming, then ran outside into traffic.

22. In February 2008, at approximately 5:30-6:00 a.m., Respondent called the guard of her Springfield office building and stated that she was unclothed in a car outside and further stated that she required something to wrap around her in order to enter the building. A while later, two women brought Respondent a coat to cover herself, and all three entered the building, with Respondent wearing the coat wrapped around her, covering her head and face.

23. On two different occasions, Respondent exposed her breasts to female co-workers to request their opinion on the results of her breast augmentation surgery.

24. On April 2, 2008, Respondent entered J.P. Kelly's, a tavern in Springfield, and exposed her breasts to two State officials, after which Respondent conversed with those officials for several minutes. At the time of the incident, Respondent was also unsteady on her feet and had been drinking.

25. Later in the evening, on April 2, 2008, Respondent went to The Plaza, a downtown Springfield tavern. Some time thereafter, she was wobbling and barely able to stand on her feet in the alley behind The Plaza. Respondent recognized a former HFS employee, and then loudly confronted the former employee by stating that the former employee had "fucking called my husband."

26. On January 6, 2009, at approximately 1:30 a.m., Respondent appeared at her Springfield office building dressed in sleepwear and barefoot, escorted by a man. Respondent requested a master key from the guard, proceeded upstairs to the executive offices, and then returned the key to the guard at the main entrance. Respondent and the man entered the elevator hugging and kissing. Respondent and her companion left the office at about 6:30 a.m.

27. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged 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 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.

Marcia Topper Wolf
Counsel for the Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, #1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By: Marcia Topper Wolf