The Illinois Supreme Court on May 18 imposed sanctions on two area attorneys for misconduct that included concealing the death of a client and selling marijuana.
Anthony Patrick Gilbreth of Crowder and Scoggins in Columbia was censured for having settled his deceased client's case without informing the court or opposing counsel in a St. Clair County product liability case.
His firm had filed suit against Orthotic & Prosthetic Lab on behalf of Randy Robison in 2008. Robison had alleged failure of a prosthesis that Orthotic designed, made and sold.
Robison died in January 2013. His son Matthew Robison was appointed administrator of the estate in August. During settlement negotiaions, Orthotic & Prosthetic offered $110,000 in September and a few days later Gilbreth responded to the offer saying his client instructed him to accept it.
"At the time of the settlement, defense counsel was unaware because Respondent had not told him that Mr. Robison had died," states an Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) petition for discipline. "Respondent withheld the fact of Mr. Robison's death in part because he knew that Mr. Robison's death would reduce the value of any claim for damages.
"Respondent also felt that it would be improper to reveal Mr. Robison's death because Respondent thought that information was confidential under Rule 1.6 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, and its revelation would harm his former client's claim. Respondent did research the issue and discussed it with other attorneys in his firm, but did not research ARDC case precedent, discussed infra, in which attorneys have been disciplined for failure to disclose his or her client's death under similar circumstances."
The ARDC's petition states that in mitigation, five lawyers from Columbia, Edwardsville and Belleville, a reverend from Columbia and a judge in Monroe County would testify that Gilbreth "has a good reputation for truth and veracity."
Gilbreth was admitted to practice in 2006.
Scott Hassebrock of Mascoutah was disbarred on consent after having pled guilty to possession with intent to deliver between 2,000 and 5,000 grams of cannabis, unlawful delivery of cannabis, and violations of an order of protection.
According to ARDC charges against him, Hassebrock transported marijuana from California to his home in Mascoutah and later sold some of it to a person who was secretly cooperating with law enforcement. His arrest took place in Montgomery County in April 2014.
Law enforcement then executed a search warrant at his home where 2,224 grams of marijuana was found. He faced felony charges in St. Clair County and Montgomery County.
On the same date he was charged, his girlfriend Tammy Petroski was granted an emergency order of protection. Petroski alleged that Hassebrock "threatened, grabbed and/or pushed" her on several occasions.
He pled guilty in February 2015 in St. Clair County to the charge of unlawful possession with intent to deliver more than 2,000 grams but less than 5,000 grams. He was sentenced to probation for four years with the agreed condition that he would not practice law during that time, and he would pay a fine and costs of $7,905.
On the same day he pled guilty, and on a subsequent occasion, Hassebrock violated the one-year order of protection by approaching Petroski, according to the ARDC.
As a result, his probation was revoked and he faced jail time in St. Clair County and Montgomery County.
Hassebrock was licensed in 1991.