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Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008 02:17 pm

Licensed to chill

Former prosecutor could face two-year suspension

Untitled Document Dan Mills, the former Sangamon County prosecutor caught up in the notorious “cocaine ring” scandal that obsessed the Springfield justice community for much of 2006, may lose his law license for two years. The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission last week recommended that the Illinois Supreme Court suspend Mills’ license for two years and require a substance-abuse evaluation and proof that Mills has complied with treatment before allowing him to practice law again. Mills, 40, has never been arrested or charged with a crime; he and another assistant state’s attorney, John “Jake” Kelley, were fingered by a cocaine dealer who cooperated with investigators. Both Mills and Kelley received letters of immunity and cooperated with investigators, eventually admitting to buying and sharing small quantities of cocaine and cannabis about nine times over a one-year period while working as assistant state’s attorneys. At his October hearing, Mills tried to persuade the ARDC to examine what he believed was a larger crime — the alleged leak to the media of grand-jury testimony naming him and Kelley. Mills’ father, U.S. District Judge Richard Mills, supported his son’s assertion and testified on his behalf [see Dusty Rhodes, “Blown away,” Oct. 25, 2007]. However, the hearing officers called that argument irrelevant, instead focusing on the fact that Mills knowingly and repeatedly broke the law while working as a prosecutor. “It seems self-evident that the citizens of Sangamon County, as well as their elected State’s Attorney, should expect and require Assistant State’s Attorneys to obey the law themselves and to take affirmative action to disclose the acts of others known to be violating the criminal laws,” the panelists wrote. At the hearing, Mills also refused to answer specific questions about his drug use and his medical condition, saying he feared such testimony might be handed over to a state prosecutor still threatening to press criminal charges. The ARDC’s recommended suspension is double the one-year term that its own prosecutor, Peter Rotskoff, had sought. To explain the increase, the panel cited several aggravating factors, including Mills’ lack of candor, cooperation, and remorse. Mills could appeal to the ARDC review board, which could issue a different recommendation. The final decision will be made by the Illinois Supreme Court, which isn’t bound by the recommendations of either the Hearing Board or the Review Board. Mills could not be reached for comment. Kelley’s case is scheduled to be heard April 17.
Contact Dusty Rhodes at drhodes@illinoistimes.com.
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