Jail lawsuit attorney hearing soon

Rockford lawyer John F. Heckinger Jr., the attorney who performed about 80 percent of the work for the 2000 federal jail lawsuit, has a March 2 hearing before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC).

Heckinger was charged Aug. 28 by ARDC with five counts of alleged unauthorized use of his clients’ funds “for his own business or personal purposes” totaling at least $12,634.92 since 1996.

Heckinger was also charged with one count of failure to separate his money from his clients’ or third persons’ funds, which totaled $199,044.34. The state’s complaint also alleges Heckinger “used the [$199,044.34] funds…for personal and business purposes which were both related and unrelated to Respondent’s practice of law.”

Of the $199,044.34 identified in the complaint, $184,200 was paid to Heckinger by Blackhawk State Bank between June 1999 and September 1999. Heckinger is one of two plaintiff lawyers involved in the federal lawsuit that was cited in 2002 by county officials as the primary reason voters had to pass the jail tax.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Paul Logli said last fall unless one of the individuals named in the state’s case steps forward to complain, Logli would not charge Heckinger.

Logli and Winnebago County Sheriff Richard Meyers repeatedly cited Timothy Chatmon Jr., and Timothy Chatmon’s (Heckinger’s clients) federal jail overcrowding lawsuit as the primary reason county voters needed to approve a tax to build a new $93-130 million, 900- to 1,500-bed jail.

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