On Tuesday, November 21, 2023, the Supreme Court of Illinois disbarred Oak Park attorney Richard Michael Ruggiero for violating attorney conduct rules related to the misuse of client trust funds.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Richard Michael Ruggiero,” with case no. 031850.
On September 23, 2022, the Supreme Court of Illinois suspended Ruggiero from the practice of law for dishonesty. The complaint alleged that Ruggiero improperly used a client trust fund for his own personal or business expenses without notifying or obtaining permission from the trust beneficiaries.
The trust in question was the Lena De Benedetto Revocable Living Trust, of which Ruggiero became successor trustee on September 19, 2003, following the deaths of the original trustee and beneficiaries. As a successor trustee, it indicates that if none of the other mentioned individuals in the Trust were capable or willing to serve as the trustee, the Respondent would assume the role of trustee. Under the terms of the trust, four charities – the American Heart Association, Lupus Foundation, Pacific Garden Mission, and Shriners Hospital for Children – were supposed to receive the remaining trust funds.
However, as the successor trustee, Ruggiero took the entire $260,644.28 remaining in the trust for his use without notifying or obtaining permission from the charitable beneficiaries. The Commission alleged that by December 2020, Ruggiero had spent all of the funds on personal and law office expenses rather than distributing them as outlined in the trust. Considering the misconduct of Ruggiero, the Supreme Court of Illinois decided to suspend him.
In relation to this disciplinary action, on November 21, 2023, the Illinois Supreme Court approved the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission’s motion to accept the Hearing Board’s findings and recommendation of disbarment. In its order, the court officially disbarred Ruggiero from practicing law in Illinois.
The Disposition states:
“Motion by the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission to approve and confirm the report and recommendation of the Hearing Board. Allowed. Respondent Richard Michael Ruggiero is disbarred.”
According to avvo.com, Mr. Ruggiero practiced as a workers compensation attorney in Oak Park, Illinois before his disbarment. He is the founder of Ruggiero Law Group, LLC. He acquired his law license in Illinois in 1992.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.