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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Politician Lawyer Felon Keeps Law License (MORE, CLICK HERE)

New Kind of Jailhouse Lawyer: Pol-Turned-Felon Gets to Keep His Law License
The Associated Press by Ryan J. Foley - March 26, 2008

MADISON, Wis. - A former state senator convicted of accepting kickbacks could practice law again soon after the state Supreme Court declined Wednesday to revoke his license.

Gary George, a Milwaukee Democrat who served in the Senate for 23 years, was convicted in 2004 on a charge of accepting monthly cash payments that flowed from a nonprofit group that received state funds. He was sentenced to 48 months in prison. In a 5-0 decision on Wednesday, the Supreme Court rejected a recommendation from state regulators that George's license be revoked for misconduct.

The court said a suspension of four years and three months is enough punishment and perhaps the longest ever imposed in Wisconsin. The court applied the punishment retroactive to March 2004, when his license was suspended. That means George could be eligible to practice again as early as June.

The court said George's misconduct was extremely serious but disbarring him would be too harsh. The court noted his long public service, previously clean disciplinary record and prospects for rehabilitation. The court ordered George, who has completed his prison term and is living in Milwaukee, to pay the cost of more than $14,000 for the disciplinary proceedings.

George's attorney, Mark Hazelbaker, called the decision "a significant victory" for his client. George wants to return to work as a lawyer so he can pay a $568,000 restitution order, he said. "Gary acknowledged that he made some very serious mistakes and knew he was going to face the severest of discipline," Hazelbaker said. "But throughout the whole process he was hoping to have a chance to practice law again and ultimately be able to redeem himself."

George pleaded no contest to his role in a kickback scheme involving Opportunities Industrialization Center of Greater Milwaukee, which had contracts worth $40 million per year to administer the state's welfare-to-work program. The nonprofit group paid a monthly retainer to attorney Mark Sostarich, typically about $5,800. Sostarich would then send up to $4,670 to George, who performed no legal work in exchange for the payments. The group also "invested" $200,000 of an affiliate's money in a corporation controlled by George's family.

In all, George received $400,000 from the group. He also admitted that he used legislative staffers to perform personal work for himself and his campaign. Regulators asked for George's license to be revoked because his "conduct involved criminal behavior and dishonesty and a violation of public trust," said William Weigel, a lawyer for the Office of Lawyer Regulation. But he said he respected the court's suspension and the effect was little different.

Lawyers whose licenses are revoked can petition for reinstatement after five years. The court's order allows George to start that process April 1 instead of later this year or early next year, Weigel said. George will still have to prove that he is fit to practice law before he is reinstated, during a "rigorous process" that can take up to one year, he said.

Justices David Prosser and Louis Butler recused themselves from the case. Prosser served with George in the Legislature. Butler, who is facing a tough challenge for a 10-year seat on the court in the April 1 election, did not give a reason.


Anonymous said...

So what do the lawyers in the 4th Dept, NY think of this? Hard to get that license back there isn't it?

Anonymous said...

if you have a law license, you have a license to do anything because your brothers will protect you.....hey, this is yet another example of criminal acts preformed by lawyers on a regular basis.
The answer is to put them all in work camps for a very long time. Didn't Mao do that in China?

Anonymous said...

Because these scumbags are so ruthless, good and decent people simply wouldn't run for elected office. It's awful.

Anonymous said...

surprise, all lawyers are FELONS!!!

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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