Lawyer’s Wish Granted By Illinois Supreme Court

CHICAGO (jGLi) — The Illinois Supreme Court has formally removed the name of Manny A. Aguja “from the roll of attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(a) …  effective immediately.”

In an order and mandate addressed to Edward M. Genson, Mr. Aguja’s lawyer, dated March 19, 2012 and posted online by the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC), the seven-panel State Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride acted on the motion of Mr. Aguja “to strike his name from the roll of attorneys” in case number, M. R. 25202.

 

The ruling was based on a notice of filing dated Jan. 30, 2012, where Mr. Aguja “desires to have his name stricken from the Roll of Attorneys pursuant to Rule 762(a) effective immediately” in connection with a “statement of charges prepared by the Administrator and Movant’s (Aguja’s) affidavit in support of this motion.”

In a four-page statement of charges, Jerome Larkin, ARDC Administrator, said “on the date Manny A. Aguja (hereinafter “Movant”) filed that his name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys, the Administrator was investigating the conduct that formed the basis for Movant’s conviction for the offense of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, in the case docketed as USA v. Aguja” filed with the U.S. District of the Northern District of Illinois.

“Had Movant’s conduct been the subject of a hearing, the Administrator would have introduced the evidence described below, and that evidence would have clearly and convincingly established the following conclusion of misconduct.”

Mr. Aguja was one of the ten defendants indicted in 2009 by a grand jury, which returned a 14-count indictment, charging them with “conspiracy to commit marriage fraud,” making a false statement in a naturalization application, and conspiracy to encourage and induce aliens to reside in the United States, knowing and in reckless disregard of the fact that such residence would be in violation of the law.

On April 25, 2011, Aguja pleaded guilty to Count 1, admitting facts that “would establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.”

BRING COURTS OR LEGAL PROFESSION INTO DISREPUTE

As a result of the misconduct, Larkin said, Aguja committed a “criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects” by violating the law; “conduct involving dishonesty fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;” “conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and “conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.”

Aguja, 54, was subsequently sentenced to 24 months imprisonment and a fine of $10,000. He will start serving his sentence next month on May 1st.

His co-accused and identical twin brother, Marc Aguja, was sentenced to “one year and one day” imprisonment plus a $10,000 fine for conspiring with several others. He will enter prison on May 15th.

Others convicted in the conspiracy were Filipino-American Chicago Cook County deputy clerk of court, Maria Flordelis Pulido-Cruz, 50, who was sentenced to 33 months for being the “arranger” of 27 fraudulent marriages, making $1,000 to $3,000 per marriage. She starts serving her sentence this month on April 23rd.

Other conspirators convicted were Latrice Wilson, 38, Pulido-Cruz’s co-employee at the Cook County Traffic Court in Chicago, Illinois, who was sentenced to a two-year probation and to pay $1,000 fine and to perform a 20-hour community service; Keisha McGary, 36, and DeShawn Barksdale, 40, also both former co-employees of Ms. Cruz and Wilson at the Traffic Court of Cook County, who were both sentenced to two years’ probation; to pay $1,000 fine; and no fine, respectively.

Co-accused Sonia Maki received two-year probation with electronic monitoring for the first six months, 100-hour community service and if not working an additional 20-hour community service, according to Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan’s Courtroom deputy, Michael Wing.

Another accused Maria Fernandez is slated to be sentenced on April 10, 2012 at 11 a.m. while Eugene Wilson is scheduled for sentencing on May 3, 2012 at 11 a.m.

Sentencing for Celeste Ligutan-Lopez has not yet been set. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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