ARDC board sets June 20 hearing on Peel misconduct charges

Ann Maher Apr. 26, 2012, 8:43am


A hearing board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) will meet June 20 in a case pending against imprisoned attorney Gary Peel.

Peel, a former Madison County class action attorney, was found guilty of obstruction of justice, bankruptcy fraud and child pornography at federal court in East St. Louis in 2007 and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The ARDC filed an amended misconduct complaint against Peel on April 23.

An ARDC spokesman said the amended complaint takes note of a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision reached in February that affirmed Peel's conviction and sentence.

On a first appeal, the Seventh Circuit ruled in 2010 that Peel had been sentenced twice for the same crime, as his verdicts for obstruction of justice and bankruptcy fraud depended on the same set of facts. The appeals court remanded the case to U.S. District Judge William Stiehl's court with directions that either the bankruptcy fraud conviction or the obstruction of justice conviction be vacated.

On Aug. 1, 2011, Stiehl vacated the conviction for obstructing justice and resentenced Peel to the same prison sentence as previously imposed.

The ARDC charges Peel with:

- Committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

- Conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4); and

- Conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or which brings the courts and the legal profession into disrepute in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.

In 2006, Peel mixed blackmail and child pornography by copying the photographs and sticking them in his former wife Deborah Peel's mailbox.

He had threatened to make them public if Deborah kept trying to enforce their divorce agreement through his bankruptcy proceedings.

She called postal authorities, who called federal prosecutors.

Agents wired her and sent her to meet Gary, who proposed to swap his photos for her signature on a settlement.

Arrest and conviction followed.

The Seventh Circuit held, "When one considers the ugliness of the defendant's criminal affair with his 16-year old sister-in-law, the gross impropriety of his making and retaining (for decades) nude photographs of her, his use of those photographs to blackmail the girl's sister (his ex-wife), the very large financial gain he anticipated from the blackmail, the fact that he is a lawyer, the effrontery of his allocution, and the fact that we had already upheld his 10-year sentence for possession and distribution of child pornography, we can find no basis for criticizing the sentence that the judge re-imposed, let alone for vacating it."

Peel is serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Ashland in northeastern Kentucky, a low security institution housing male inmates with a satellite camp that houses minimum security inmates.

He is scheduled to be released on Sept. 20, 2017.

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