Watch CBS News

Retired Cook County judge disbarred over fleecing of late Tuskegee Airman uncle

Retired Cook County judge disbarred over fleecing of Tuskegee Airman uncle
Retired Cook County judge disbarred over fleecing of Tuskegee Airman uncle 00:35

The video above is from a previous report

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A former Cook County judge accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from her uncle has been stripped of her law license.

The Illinois Supreme Court has disbarred Patricia Martin, effective immediately, after Martin in June 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.

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."

Retired Cook County judge Patricia Martin Children's Defense Fund

"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."

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.

Tuskegee Airman Oscar Wilkerson
Tuskegee Airman Oscar Wilkerson CBS

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.

Retired judge could face more charges in fleecing Tuskegee Airman 02:48

"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.

The States Attorney's office and the Illinois Attorney General are investigating – and possible felony charges could be coming as well.

Last month, CBS 2 learned of a new criminal charge from the Cook County State's Attorney's office.

The charge is 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."

Criminal contempt case coming against retired judge accused of fleecing Tuskegee Airman? 02:32

And there are signs more criminal charges could be coming soon.

As Judge Martin left court in August, Tye asked her if there was anything she wanted to say. She advised that Tye speak to her attorney, who said, "We have no comment at this time."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.