Amiel Cueto, a disbarred lawyer who spent nearly six years in prison on obstruction of justice charges, is seeking $90 million in a suit he filed against St. Clair County State's Attorney Robert Haida, Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee lawyer James Grogan and Illinois Liquor Control Agent Bonds Robinson.
In the suit filed Nov. 14 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Cueto claims the three men participated in a racketeering enterprise that framed him and caused his license to practice law to be suspended in August of 1998 and to be revoked on Nov. 19, 2004.
Attempts to disbar Cueto began in 1986 when a series of disputes arose between Cueto and Grogan, according to the complaint.
"Grogan kept Amiel Cueto under almost continuous ARDC investigation, but these were political investigations that never resulted in any charges," the suit states.
However, Cueto claims that in 1995, Grogan worked with an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Illinois, Miriam Miquelon, to frame Cueto.
"Grogan used ARDC Rules to compel Amiel Cueto to be a witness against himself, by requiring Cueto to produce a written statement and more than 1,000 pages of documents related to Cueto's having exposed the extortion racket of Bonds Robinson," the suit states.
Although the statement did not incriminate Cueto, it did allow Grogan and Miquelon to structure the "frame-up" to get around Cueto's defenses, according to the complaint.
On July 18, 1996, Cueto was named in a sealed indictment as a defendant along with Congressman Jerry Costello, Thomas Venezia and Robert Romanik, the suit states.
Cueto went to trial in April 1997 on a new indictment that was unsealed Aug. 9, 1996, according to the complaint.
But Cueto claims the second indictment was a forgery.
"Later, after Miquelon (and maybe Grogan), forged the August 9 indictment, Miquelon had to steal or erase the tape of the July 18, 1996 hearing" at which Miquelon disclosed Congressman Costello had been indicted, the suit states. "Miquelon also made the original grand jury 'ballot' disappear."
During Cueto's trial, Grogan became the "de facto lead-prosecutor" and testified against Cueto in an attempt to frame him, according to the complaint.
"His (Grogan's) trial testimony was a massive obstruction of justice; replete with lie after lie after lie," the suit states.
Haida, too, testified against Cueto, another "massive obstruction of justice" due to his lies, Cueto claims.
Haida also convinced Miquelon to bar Cueto from contradicting Haida during the hearing, according to the complaint.
"Because of Haida's obstruction of justice, Cueto was barred from even denying his guilt," the suit states.
Cueto claims his law license was wrongly revoked.
"There is no doubt about the fact that Cueto never performed any unlawful acts; nor is there any doubt about the fact that Cueto never violated any ethical rules," the suit states.
Cueto claims he was injured by being deprived of his license to practice law, resulting in lost income of $15 million, $1.5 million per year since August 1998.
He claims the net value of his future losses is at least $15 million, bringing his total pecuniary damages to at least $30 million.
Cueto seeks treble damages of $90 million, an additional one-third of that sum as a "reasonable attorney's fee," and costs of suit.
He is representing himself.
Contacted by the Record, Grogan, the Deputy Administrator and Chief Counsel of the ARDC, declined to comment on Cueto's lawsuit. Efforts to reach Haida and Robinson for comment were unsuccessful.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon.
U.S. District Court case number: 08-808-DRH.