On October 30, 2023, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Hearing Board recommended that attorney Robert M. Romero be disbarred from practicing law in the state. The recommendation stems from serious allegations and legal violations involving his failure to promptly deliver attorney fees owed to a former associate and his refusal to cooperate with the bar investigation.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Robert M. Romero” with case number 2023PR00010.
According to the filing, Romero violated the following Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct:
1.15(d): A lawyer must deposit in a client trust account funds received to secure payment of legal fees and expenses, to be withdrawn by the lawyer only as fees are earned and expenses are incurred. A lawyer must deposit in the lawyer’s general account or other account belonging to the lawyer funds received as a fixed fee, an engagement retainer, or a special purpose retainer, as described in Rule 1.5.
3.4(a): Unlawfully obstruct another party’s access to evidence or unlawfully alter, destroy or conceal a document or other material having potential evidentiary value. A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to do any such act.
8.4(c): Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
8.4(d): Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
The case involved Mr. Romero’s representation of a client in a personal injury matter. After settling the case, Mr. Romero failed to promptly deliver $56,000 in attorney fees owed to a former associate, Lisa Lange, who had an attorney lien for fees. Despite court orders directing Mr. Romero to hold the disputed funds in his client trust account, he spent the money for personal purposes.
When Ms. Lange later filed a petition to enforce her lien, the court again ordered Mr. Romero to pay her the disputed fees. He refused and was held in contempt. The court assessed fines against Mr. Romero for non-compliance, but he continued to defy the orders.
In a default proceeding, Romero did not appear, and no counsel represented him. Due to his lack of participation and multiple violations, the Hearing Board Panel recommended his disbarment. The aggravating factors taken into consideration included financial harm to Lange, dishonesty, failure to make restitution, and his failure to adhere to court orders.
Romero’s lack of prior disciplinary actions did not change the decision to disbar him due to the gravity of his misconduct and multiple aggravating factors. The Panel’s report was approved, and the disbarment was ordered.
The recommendation states:
“Given Respondent’s misconduct, the aggravating factors present, and the case law cited by the Administrator, we recommend that Respondent, Robert M. Romero, be disbarred.”
According to Avvo, Mr. Romero is an attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida. He obtained his law license in Illinois in 2000.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.