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Former Cook County judge indicted for stealing $250K from Tuskegee Airman uncle

Former Cook County judge accused of stealing money from Tuskegee airman
Former Cook County judge accused of stealing money from Tuskegee airman 02:41

The above video is from a previous report

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A former Cook County judge accused of stealing nearly $250,000 from her uncle, a former Tuskegee Airman, has been indicted on seven felony charges.

Patricia Martin, 64, was indicted on Nov. 9 on three counts of theft, two counts of financial exploitation of an elderly person, one count of money laundering, and one count of financial institution fraud.

According to the indictment, the thefts happened between December 2020 and October 2022. She's accused of moving money from her uncle Oscar Wilkerson's bank accounts to at least two other accounts in an effort to cover up the thefts, and used the money for cryptocurrency investments in her own name.

Patricia Martin CBS 2

The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred Martin in September, after she previously admitted to misconduct.

"She intentionally used for her own purposes more than $240,000 she had agreed to hold for an elderly relative who was residing in a nursing home, made false statements to the physician who held her relative's power of attorney about the balances in his bank and investment accounts, and did not produce documents in response to an ARDC subpoena," according to the court's Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

She had been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1986 before the state's highest court stripped her of her license in September.

Martin, who spent 24 years on the bench, retired as Cook County's top juvenile court judge in 2020.

Around the same time, the Illinois Supreme Court – which investigates attorney misbehavior – alleges that as her uncle's power of attorney, Martin "used at least $246,203.80 of… funds without his authority for her own personal purposes."

"If you can't trust a judge, who can you trust?" said Ken Rapier, a friend of Martin's uncle, Oscar Wilkerson, a former Tuskegee Airman who died in February. "It really upsets me when somebody takes advantage of the Tuskegee Airmen."

Tuskegee Airman Oscar Wilkerson
Tuskegee Airman Oscar Wilkerson CBS

Five months before he died, Wilkerson – who lived his final days at a south suburban retirement center – sued Martin.

The lawsuit accused Martin of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Wilkerson and converting it into "cryptocurrency that she held in her own name and over which she maintained exclusive control."

Due to her "continued unresponsiveness" to court hearings and orders, a judge ordered Martin to pay three times as much - $1.1 million dollars - to Wilkerson's estate.

Along the way, court rulings indicate Judge Martin failed to show up and follow court orders – which led to an investigation by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office.

Martin has owned since owned up to misconduct.

In an affidavit obtained by CBS 2, Martin acknowledged "the evidence would clearly and convincingly establish the facts and conclusions of misconduct."

CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller called Martin's admission a massive fall from grace.

"It's going to shake the entire Circuit Court of Cook County," he said. "She's agreeing that the evidence against her clearly - and she uses the word 'clearly' - establishes that she committed misconduct in this particular case."

Despite that admission, Martin has argued she shouldn't have to pay the $1.1 million to Wilkerson's estate, since her uncle is now dead.

"The plaintiff's death," her lawyer wrote, "suspend[s] the court's jurisdiction" in this matter.

"They're making a technical argument – frankly, it may have merit - that because the plaintiff died while this proceeding was pending, there is no proper plaintiff - and if there is no proper plaintiff, the lawsuit can't proceed," Miller said.

In July, Cook County prosecutors charged Martin with criminal contempt of court related to court orders - as recently as this April - where the court ordered Martin "not to move funds of Oscar Wilkerson."

Regardless, prosecutors say, Judge Martin kept moving funds - $598 here, $277 there - and more and more. Prosecutors say Martin transferred much of the money to Bitcoin, and they say have the receipts they say prove it.

"Even if you're a former judge, you cannot thumb your nose at a court order - and that's what the current judge hearing the case has indicated occurred in this case," Miller said, "and that's why she was pretty upset about it."

Martin made her first appearance on the theft and money laundering charges on Friday, and is due back in court in Bridgeview on Dec. 20. She was allowed to remain free as she awaits trial.

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