Former Cook County judge accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from elderly man faces theft, money laundering charges

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A former Cook County judge accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the bank accounts of an elderly former Tuskegee Airman to purchase cryptocurrency has been indicted on seven felony counts of theft, money laundering and financial exploitation of an elderly person. Tuskegee Airman Oscar Lawton Wilkerson spoke at Southland College Prep Charter High School on Feb. 27, 2017. The felony charges were lodged Nov. 9 against Patricia Martin, who stepped down in 2020 as presiding judge in the Child Protection Division of Cook County Circuit Court. She’s allowed to live in Missouri while she awaits her next court date in December, according to court records. “She had a long and distinguished career, and we expect her to be vindicated,” said Martin’s attorney, Michael Leonard. The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, which handles allegations of lawyer misconduct, said in a May 31 fraud complaint that Martin stole from Oscar Wilkerson, an elderly man whose financial affairs she was supposed to manage. They alleged she used the money for her personal benefit, including buying more than $100,000 in cryptocurrency in her own name. Wilkerson died in February at 97. In total, the attorney discipline complaint alleged Martin took $246,203.80 of Wilkerson’s money during about a two-year period. It also accused her of lying to Wilkerson and his doctor and failing to cooperate with an investigation. Lawyers for Wilkerson also filed a lawsuit against Martin last year where a judge ordered a $1.1 million default judgment due to Martin’s “continued unresponsiveness” to court hearings and orders. Martin has already been disbarred. Martin’s attorneys are appealing the default judgment. Martin filed a motion in July to dismiss the judgment, arguing, among other issues, that Wilkerson’s death in February left the case without a proper plaintiff. Mary Wisniewski, a spokesperson for Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans’ office, said in a statement that “neither judges nor employees … can comment on pending or impending cases, under Illinois Supreme Court ethical rules.” rjohnson@chicagotribune.com mabuckley@chicagotribune.com

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