A former judge in Cook County, Ill., has been stripped of her law license after claims she stole money from her uncle to buy cryptocurrency. Photo courtesy of Children's Defense Fund/YouTube
Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A former judge in Cook County, Ill., has been stripped of her law license after claims she stole money from her uncle to buy cryptocurrency.
Patricia Manila Martin was accused of stealing $240,000 in funds belonging to Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Jr., after he moved into a nursing home, according to Illinois Supreme Court documents obtained by UPI.
Martin allegedly made false statements to Wilkerson's physician and close friend about the balance in his investment, checking and money market accounts after she had closed those accounts.
The saga began when Maceo R. Ellison, a friend of the then 95-year-old Wilkerson, recommended he be moved into the nursing home.
Ellison held power of attorney but asked Martin, the niece of Wilkerson's former spouse, to help him manage his financial affairs.
Martin resigned her position as a circuit court judge in Cook County as Wilkerson moved into Brookdale Senior Living in Orland Park in December 2020.
That same month, Martin closed Wilkerson's accounts and used the money to purchase bitcoin in her name that she exclusively controlled, despite not being authorized by Ellison or Wilkerson to do so.
By February 2021, Martin had taken $314,566 from Wilkerson's accounts but spent just $68,363 towards his care.
In July 2022, Brookdale contacted Ellison and informed him that Martin had not paid for Wilkerson's care for two months and owed more than $41,000.
Ellison then discovered that Wilkerson's accounts contained zero balances and had been closed and hired an attorney to investigate. That attorney, Eric Puryear, filed a lawsuit against Martin in the Circuit Court of Cook County in September 2022.
Martin filed an answer to that complaint in December in which she admitted to her wrongdoing. Wilkerson, a former Tuskegee Airman, died in February.
In May, another judge entered a default judgment against Martin in the civil case in the amount of more than $1.2 million. Martin has argued that she shouldn't have to pay the penalty to his estate since he is now dead.
The former judge has been licensed to practice law since May 1986 and moved to have her name stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.