Peel's law license in jeopardy

Ann Knef Mar. 27, 2007, 1:39am

Facing up to 40 years in prison, attorney Gary Peel, 63, of Glen Carbon will be sentenced June 25 in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis.

Peel, a former Lakin Law Firm class action litigator, was found guilty on four counts of obstruction of justice, bankruptcy fraud and possession of child pornography by a federal jury Friday afternoon.

His sentencing also is considered his date of conviction in the eyes of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC). If Peel does not do so voluntarily, the ARDC will take steps to suspend his law license on grounds of "moral turpitude" within a few days of sentencing, according to ARDC spokesman James Grogan.

Only serious crimes, such as obstruction of justice and child pornography, fall into the category of moral turpitude, he said.

On Wednesday there will be a hearing to decide if Peel will be taken into custody pending sentencing. He was released on bond after the trial pursuant to his arraignment.

Peel was prosecuted for blackmailing his ex-wife Deborah Peel with nude photos taken of her 16-year-old sister in 1974.

He and Deborah Peel were married in 1967 and divorced in 2003. During contentious settlement proceedings Gary Peel filed for bankruptcy in 2004.

During the trial Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Burke told jurors that Peel threatened to bankrupt his ex-wife in legal fees if she did not stop trying to get a deposition of his current wife, Deborah A. Pontious-Peel.

He told the jury that Peel planned to send the nude photos to Deborah Peel's parents if she did not agree to a new divorce settlement.

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