Attorney admits taking, concealing $36k in client's drug proceeds

The Madison County Record Jun. 3, 2007, 2:00am

EAST ST. LOUIS -- An attorney waived indictment and pled guilty last week in federal court in East St. Louis, to taking and concealing $36,000 in drug proceeds from a client he represented in federal court in 2004.

During court proceedings and in court documents, Frank R. Fabbri, III, 62, of St. Louis, admitted that he received $36,000 in cash, representing drug proceeds, in November 2004 from a client and that he failed to report the receipt of cash to the Internal Revenue Service.

The client, Edward Trober, had retained Fabbri as his defense counsel in June 2004. At the time, Trober was charged in the Southern District of Illinois, with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.

Trober, with Fabbri present as defense counsel, met with agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division on two occasions.

During the meetings, when agents learned that Trober had paid Fabbri's legal fees in cash, they informed Fabbri of his responsibility to file IRS Form 8300 (Report of Cash Payment Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business.)

In open court today, Fabbri admitted that in early November 2004, he was given cash that Trober had directed family members to remove from a hidden location.

On Nov. 12, 2004, Fabbri delivered $73,000 to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Fairview Heights, and represented that the $73,000 was all the money Trober had in drug proceeds.

During last week's court hearing, Fabbri admitted that he had not filed the required IRS Form 8300 for the $36,000 and that he knew the cash was from the distribution of marijuana and should have been turned over to the government on behalf of his client.

On April 14, 2005, Trober, represented by other counsel, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and a $20 million forfeiture judgment was entered against him.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation Division.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Illinois recused itself from the case prosecution of Fabbri. The Department of Justice subsequently assigned the matter to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois for prosecution and Assistant U.S. Attorney Hilary W. Frooman was assigned to prosecute the case.

The U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, Rodger A. Heaton, commended Frooman and the investigative agencies. U.S.

Attorney Heaton stated, "Lawyers are not above the law. Mr. Fabbri took advantage of his client for financial gain and must be held

In a plea agreement between the defendant and the government, Fabbri has agreed to pay $36,000 in restitution to be credited to the monetary forfeiture judgment previously imposed against Edward Trober.

Sentencing for Fabbri is scheduled for Aug. 27, at 1:30 p.m., before U.S. District Judge William D. Stiehl, in East St. Louis. The offense, failure to file form 8300, carries a statutory penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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