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Thursday, June 22, 2017 06:36 pm

Suspend Kent Gray, lawyer disciplinary board says

Former LLCC trustee lied, practiced law without license, board determines

The disciplinary arm of the Illinois Supreme Court has recommended that Kent Gray, a local politician and attorney for Southern View and Illiopolis, be suspended from practice for one year for lying in court and practicing law without a license.

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission in a report issued Tuesday found that Gray had lied in 2015 when he told former Sangamon County Associate Judge Steve Nardulli that he was unable to obtain transcripts of federal tax returns for five tax years dating from 2010 to 2014 because of a snafu in the Internal Revenue Service’s transcript retrieval system.

Nardulli, who has retired, was presiding over Gray’s divorce case. In fact, there were no income tax transcripts available because Gray hadn’t filed state or federal income tax returns for five years, nor had he paid any state or federal income taxes. And so the judge in 2015 reported Gray to the ARDC.

“This court is alarmed that a practicing attorney has not filed income tax returns or paid income tax for a five-year period,” Nardulli wrote in a court order. “The court is obligated to forward a copy of these findings to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission to further investigate this issue.”

According to the ARDC report, Gray attempted to assert his Fifth Amendment privilege and refused to answer questions during the commission’s investigation.

Gray had been a Lincoln Land Community College trustee for 18 years until he was defeated by local attorney Gordon Gates in an April election. Gray was also Donald Trump’s state campaign manager last year but was replaced before the general election.

In addition to lying about tax returns, the commission found that Gray had practiced law without a valid license when he performed work for Southern View and Illiopolis. The commission notified Gray on March 11, 2015, that he had been removed from the roll of licensed lawyers in Illinois for failure to register as a lawyer with the ARDC and pay the required registration fee. After paying the required fee, Gray was added to the roll of registered lawyers on April 17, 2015, according to the ARDC.

Before being returned to the roll of registered lawyers, Gray attended two Southern View village board meetings and billed the village at the rate of $171 per hour, according to the ARDC report. Gray also charged the village for other legal work while he was not registered to practice law, according to the ARDC. Gray also submitted bills for monthly retainers of $2,200 to Illiopolis in the spring of 2015 while he was not authorized to practice law, according to the ARDC. The commission also found that Gray, as of March 7, had not registered to practice law in 2017, which the commission found “surprising and troubling.”

The commission recommended that Gray be suspended for one year for dishonesty, knowingly making false statements in court pleadings, failing to comply with court orders, engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and practicing law without a valid license. The Supreme Court will make the final decision.

The commission also found that Gray had unfairly maligned the ARDC, its lawyers and its processes during a March disciplinary hearing, when he said, among other things, that his accusers had “stacked the deck.” The ARDC also faulted Gray for telling the State Journal-Register, after allegations against him were filed, that the system was “rigged” and that the system was “a joke.”

“Respondent (Gray) demonstrated that he does not recognize he engaged in any misconduct and showed no remorse for anything he has done,” the commission wrote in its report.

Gray could not be immediately reached for comment.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.


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