Peel files another appeal, this time over a bankruptcy order

By Bethany Krajelis | Feb 21, 2013

A former Madison County attorney who was sentenced to 12 years behind bars has filed another appeal stemming from his 2007 convictions.

Gary Evan Peel late last month filed notice of appeal over a January order entered by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kenneth Meyers.

Peel, who was convicted in 2007 of bankruptcy fraud and child pornography possession, contends in his appeal that Meyers erred when he ordered the trustee of his estate to deposit $2,185 to the clerk of the St. Clair County Circuit Court, rather than to him or his second ex-wife.

Since his conviction, Peel has been fighting to get his prison sentence changed and attorney disciplinary proceedings delayed.

The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) lodged a complaint against Peel in 2007 as a result of his convictions. He was accused of blackmailing his first ex-wife with nude photographs of her then-minor sister.

Peel, whose law license was suspended in 2008 on an interim basis, argued that the hearing board of the ARDC called the hearing against him prematurely because he had not yet exhausted the appeals process in his federal case.

He filed a motion in his federal case in March, asking the court to vacate, set aside or correct his prison sentence on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Peel also asked the court to appoint him an attorney to help him identify documents he asserted would help it determine whether an evidentiary hearing over his motion was needed.

U.S. District Judge William Stiehl in January denied Peel’s requests, spurring Peel to file a motion for summary judgment on his motion on Feb. 1, the same the hearing board of the ARDC recommended he be disbarred from the practice of law.

His motion seeking summary judgment asks the court to set aside his convictions and grant him a new trial on all counts of the indictment, as well as issue a finding of “actual innocence” on the two counts that dealt with the nude photos he had of his ex-wife’s sister.

Peel’s bankruptcy case dates back to at least 2008, when a judge denied his request to be discharged from his Chapter 7 proceedings.

The trustee of his estate last year filed a motion to pay exemptions claimed that requested a $3,060 payment to Peel. The U.S. Department of Justice filed an objection, seeking $875 of that amount to pay the balance on his criminal monetary penalties that stemmed from his conviction.

Peel asserts in his appeal that an affidavit for non-wage garnishment was then filed in Madison County Circuit Court by Peel’s second ex-wife.

Meyers granted the DOJ’s objection, as well as the trustee’s request that the remaining balance -- $2,185 go to Peel, according to his appeal.

In January, Peel contends that Meyers told the trustee to deposit that amount to the Clerk of the Court in St. Clair County in relation to his divorce proceedings with his first ex-wife.

Among other reasons, Peel argues in his appeal that Meyers erred in his order because his first wife – Deborah Peel – has no unsatisfied judgments against him while his second wife –Deborah Pontious-Peel – has a valid unsatisfied judgment against him in Madison County.

Peel asserts that “if, as Judge Meyers opines, the non-wage garnishment of Deborah A. Pontious-Peel is a nullity and because Deborah J. Peel has no unsatisfied judgment against” him, then he “is the rightful recipient of the exempted funds.”

He further argues that federal law does not allow bankruptcy judges to order the distribution of estate funds to state court clerks “pending the resolution of outstanding, unresolved claims” and as such, Meyers erred in his order.

The judge in Peel’s federal case over his prison sentence has not yet ruled on his motion for summary judgment and the Illinois Supreme Court has yet to act on the ARDC hearing board's recommendation for discipline.

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