Case management conference to be held today in case against Lakin

Tom Lakin

A case management conference will be held today in St. Clair County Associate Judge Vincent Lopinot's courtroom in a civil lawsuit that five years ago launched a federal investigation of Thomas Lakin. The suit, Doe v. Lakin, seeks damages for the sexual abuse of a 15-year old boy to which Lakin admitted in court last year. Lakin did not plead guilty, but he submitted a stipulation of facts similar to a guilty plea at a hearing on Oct. 25 before Madison County Circuit Judge Charles Romani. Lakin founded the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River, which became a renowned class action and personal injury firm. It was renamed LakinChapman in 2009, and to SL Chapman earlier this year after downsizing and moving from Wood River to Alton and other locations. East Alton attorney Ed Unsell originally filed suit under seal in Madison County in May 2007 against Lakin, his law firm, as well as sons Brad and Kris Lakin. The case was ultimately unsealed. It led to an investigation in which Lakin pleaded guilty in October 2008 to possessing and distributing cocaine to a person under 21 and to maintaining a drug-involved premises, in exchange for federal prosecutors dropping sex charges that carried a sentence of life in prison. He was originally sentenced to six years in prison on the drug charges. Unsell's civil lawsuit, which was transferred from Madison to St. Clair County, was put on hold in 2007 pending the outcome of the federal investigation as well as a state criminal case. A special prosecutor was appointed to handle a state investigation after Madison County State's Attorney William Mudge, now a circuit judge, opened an investigation of sex charges but recused himself. Illinois Appellate Prosecutor Charles Colburn took charge and persisted for five years. He announced the plea agreement on Oct. 24. Lakin, at the hearing before Romani, accepted a six year sentence that would run concurrently with the six year sentence he currently serves at a federal prison in Texas. Since Lakin admitted to the sexual abuse, his sentence has been extended by a year. He is now scheduled to be released from Fort Worth Federal Correctional Institution in Texas, a low security institution housing male offenders, on Nov. 30, 2013. The case number is 06L-363.

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