Filed March 19, 2015
In re Corey Michael Novick
Commission No. 2012PR00176
Synopsis of Review Board Report and Recommendation
Respondent falsified an employment application and a resum? in an effort to obtain employment as a Legal Advisor to the Office of Employee Services at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS"). He also induced his father to falsify employment information. The Hearing Board concluded that Respondent engaged in dishonest conduct in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Hearing Board recommended that Respondent be suspended for sixty days.
Upon review, the Administrator challenged the sanction recommendation and asked that Respondent be suspended for nine months. Respondent challenged the Hearing Board's consideration of certain evidence in aggravation of his admitted misconduct. The Review Board upheld the findings of misconduct and the Hearing Board's consideration of the evidence. The Review Board also recommended that Respondent be suspended for sixty days.
BEFORE THE REVIEW BOARD
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
In the Matter of:
COREY MICHAEL NOVICK,
Commission No. 2012PR00176
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE REVIEW BOARD
Respondent falsified an employment application and a resum? in an effort to obtain employment as a Legal Advisor to the Office of Employee Services at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS"). He also induced his father to falsify employment information. His false statements came to light when the FBI investigated hiring practices at the DCFS.
As set forth below and in greater detail in the Hearing Board's Report, the Hearing Board concluded that Respondent engaged in dishonest conduct in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Hearing Board recommended that Respondent be suspended for sixty days. The Administrator appeals and requests that Respondent be suspended for nine months. Respondent also filed exceptions. While Respondent does not challenge the findings of misconduct of the Hearing Board, he argues that the Hearing Board erred in considering certain evidence in aggravation of the misconduct. For the following reasons, we uphold the Hearing Board's findings of misconduct, we conclude that the Hearing Board did not err in considering
the evidence, and we agree with the Hearing Board's recommendation that Respondent be suspended for sixty days.
Respondent was licensed in 1994. At the time of his hearing, he stated he was a sole practitioner. After obtaining his law license, Respondent held a number of positions including a position as a clerk in the Circuit Court of Cook County. In 2002, while unemployed, Respondent volunteered for Rod Blagojevich's gubernatorial campaign and later volunteered in the Office of the Governor. As set forth in the Administrator's complaint, Respondent then sought assistance from employees in Blagojevich's office to obtain state employment. In April 2003, Respondent was asked to complete an Illinois Department of Central Management Services Examining/Employment Application ("CMS 100"). On the application, Respondent stated he was counsel for a company called Codevco from "2003 to the present", worked forty hours a week and earned $800 a week. These statements were false; Respondent was never an employee of Codevco. After obtaining a position for a four year term as an attorney with DCFS, DCFS requested verification of Respondent's employment and salary at Codevco. Respondent then asked his father to provide a letter verifying his employment. At Respondent's request, his father submitted a letter falsely stating that Respondent was an employee of Codevco and falsely stating that Respondent earned $1800 per week. When Respondent's four year term expired, he sought to be re-appointed to a position at the DCFS and he again submitted a false CMS 100.
The Hearing Board concluded that Respondent engaged in dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) by including the false statements regarding his employment at Codevco on his CMS100 and his resum? and by submitting the false statements in support of his application at the DCFS.
The Hearing Board also found he violated Rule 8.4(a)(4) by submitting the letter from his father verifying his alleged employment at Codevco. Respondent admitted at hearing that he never worked at Codevco, was never an attorney for Codevco, and never received a salary from Codevco. Accordingly, Respondent knew the letter was false. The Hearing Board also concluded that Respondent induced another to engage in conduct that Respondent knew would violate the Rules of Professional Conduct in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(2) by requesting the letter from his father and by submitting the false letter to the DCFS.
Respondent contends that the Hearing Board erred in considering certain evidence in aggravation of his misconduct. First, The Hearing Board in its report stated Respondent also lied on his CMS 100 by stating that he left his position at Gordon & Glickson, the first law firm for whom Respondent worked, for "family" reasons. In reality, Respondent admitted he was asked to leave because he was not meeting his billing requirements. The testimony regarding Respondent's departure from Gordon & Glickson was offered as background information, and provided evidence supporting a theory that Respondent had a motive to lie on his CMS 100 application. Respondent contends that the Hearing Board's consideration of this lie violated his due process rights. Respondent notes that the Administrator did not charge Respondent with misconduct arising out of this statement on his application.
Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), the Administrator's Complaint should provide notice to the attorney sufficient to "reasonably inform the attorney of the act of misconduct he is alleged to have committed." See, In re Chandler, 161 Ill.2d 459,470, 641 N.E.2d 473 (1994). However, the Complaint does not need to have the same specificity of a criminal charge, and the Administrator is not required to plead every fact he intends to introduce
in evidence. In re Harris, 93 Ill.2d 285, 292, 443 N.E.2d 557 (1982). Moreover, the Hearing Board may consider uncharged misconduct as an aggravating factor in determining if it is deemed similar in nature to the underlying charges and if it was proven by the evidence. See e.g., In re Storment, 203 Ill. 2d 378, 786 N.E.2d 963 (2002). This Board will not reverse the Hearing Board's rulings on the admission of evidence unless this Board determines that the Hearing Board abused its discretion and that the abuse of discretion prejudiced the Respondent. See, e.g., In re Blank, 145 Ill. 2d 534, 553-554, 585 N.E.2d 105 (1991); In re Petrulis, 96 CH 546 (Review Bd., Dec. 9, 1999), approved and confirmed, No. M.R. 16556 (June 30, 2000). We decline to conclude that the Hearing Board abused its discretion in considering this evidence.
Secondly, Respondent argues that that the Hearing Board erred in admitting FBI 302 reports (Adm. Exs. 7-9) and that the Hearing Board's reliance on these reports deprived him of his due process rights. We fail to see how the admission of the 302 reports prejudiced the Respondent given Respondent's acceptance of the Hearing Board's findings of misconduct and given the testimony at hearing in support of the statements in the 302 Reports.
Finally, Respondent contends that the Hearing Board erred in considering, as aggravation, evidence that Respondent failed to timely register to practice law in 2003 and 2004 and he paid his registration fee for 2004 at the same time he paid his registration fee for 2005. His position at the DCFS was as a legal advisor and he was required to be a licensed attorney. Respondent admitted he knew he was required to be a licensed attorney. The Hearing Board considered this evidence as an illustration of a pattern of similar dishonesty regarding his position as a legal advisor with the DCFS, citing In re Storment, 203 Ill.2d 378, 786 N.E.2d 963 (2002). This evidence also stands in contrast to Respondent's assertions in mitigation that he was an exemplary employee at the DCFS. The Hearing Board properly considered this evidence.
The Hearing Board considered the factors in aggravation and mitigation and concluded that Respondent's misconduct warranted a suspension of sixty days. In reaching this sanction recommendation, the Hearing Board considered the same cases relied upon by the Administrator in this appeal and concluded that those cases were "significantly more extensive and egregious." (Hearing Board Report, p. 21). We agree with this assessment. See, e.g., In re Posterli, 89 CH 520 (Review Bd., Feb. 15, 1991), petition for leave to file exceptions allowed, No. M.R. 7407 (May 24, 1991)(attorney falsified his resum? by making numerous misrepresentations and by claiming to have earned awards he did not receive, used the resum? to obtain a job at a law firm, reaffirmed the false information in interviews, repeated the misrepresentations and made additional misrepresentations as to his trial experience. Respondent was suspended for six months.); In re Goodman, 93 CH 492 (Review Bd., May 18, 1995), petition for leave to file exceptions denied, No. M.R. 11497 (Sept. 29, 1995)(attorney suspended for one year for accepting more then $30,000 for a job with the City of Chicago for performing almost no services; attorney lied to federal investigators and was convicted of a federal offense).
While we strive for consistency in our recommendations as to sanctions, each disciplinary case is unique and must be resolved in light of the facts and circumstances presented to us. In re Howard, 188 Ill. 2d 423, 440, 721 N.E.2d 1126, 1135 (1999); In re Chandler, 161 Ill. 2d 459, 472, 641 N.E.2d 473, 479 (1994). We agree with the Hearing Board that Respondent's misconduct, while less egregious than the attorneys' conduct in Goodman or Posterli, warrants a suspension. Respondent engaged in the deliberate misrepresentations to obtain a job with a public agency. He also induced his father to lie for him. For these reasons, we conclude that a sixty day suspension adequately addresses Respondent's misconduct.
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We affirm the findings of facts and the findings of misconduct of the Hearing Board and we recommend to the Court that Respondent, Corey Michael Novick, be suspended for a period of sixty days.
Johnny A. Fairman, II
I, Kenneth G. Jablonski, Clerk of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois and keeper of the records, hereby certifies that the foregoing is a true copy of the Report and Recommendation of the Review Board, approved by each Panel member, entered in the above entitled cause of record filed in my office onMarch 19, 2015.
Kenneth G. Jablonski, Clerk of the