Office of Lawyer Regulation v. Krill (In re Krill), No. 2017AP2435-D

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation390 Wis.2d 466,938 N.W.2d 589,2020 WI 20
Docket NumberNo. 2017AP2435-D
Decision Date20 February 2020
Parties In the MATTER OF DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS AGAINST Michael M. KRILL, Attorney at Law: Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant, v. Michael M. Krill, Respondent.

390 Wis.2d 466
938 N.W.2d 589
2020 WI 20

In the MATTER OF DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS AGAINST Michael M. KRILL, Attorney at Law:

Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,
v.
Michael M. Krill, Respondent.

No. 2017AP2435-D

Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

Opinion Filed: February 20, 2020


938 N.W.2d 591

ATTORNEY disciplinary proceeding. Attorney's license suspended.

PER CURIAM.

390 Wis.2d 471

¶1 This case is before us pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 22.14(2) and SCR 22.17(2) on a stipulation between the parties, Attorney Michael M. Krill and the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR). In the stipulation, Attorney Krill pled no contest to 24 counts of misconduct as alleged in the OLR's third amended complaint. The referee issued a report recommending, consistent with the stipulation, that the court suspend Attorney Krill's license to practice law for three years, retroactive to August 23, 2017, order Attorney Krill to pay restitution to two clients, make satisfaction of a judgment as a condition of any future reinstatement, and order Attorney Krill to pay the full costs of this proceeding, which total $21,247.90 as of October 23, 2019.

¶2 We approve the referee's recommendations with respect to the stipulated findings of fact and conclusions of law and we adopt those findings and conclusions. We determine that a three-year suspension is insufficient given the extremely serious nature of the misconduct. We suspend Attorney Krill's license to practice law for four and one-half years, retroactive to August 23, 2017. We agree with the other recommended sanctions.

390 Wis.2d 472

¶3 Attorney Krill was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1991. He practiced in Milwaukee and, until this matter, had not been the subject of professional discipline. This court temporarily suspended Attorney Krill's law license on August 23, 2017, pursuant to SCR 22.21, on the grounds that his continued practice of law posed a risk to the public and to the administration of justice. OLR v. Krill, No. 2017XX955, unpublished order (S. Ct. August 23, 2017). His law license remains suspended. The reasons for the temporary suspension are reflected in this opinion, namely, Attorney Krill was implicated in a financial scam conducted by one of his clients.

938 N.W.2d 592

¶4 On December 14, 2017, the OLR filed a disciplinary complaint against Attorney Krill. Initially, the OLR sought revocation of Attorney Krill's law license. The complaint was amended several times; the third and final amended complaint was filed September 5, 2019. It contains some 166 separately numbered paragraphs describing 24 counts of misconduct in connection with Attorney Krill's representation of several clients. In the amended complaint the OLR sought a three-year suspension.

¶5 Shortly before the scheduled three-day evidentiary hearing, Attorney Krill and the OLR entered into a stipulation in which Attorney Krill pled no contest to all the allegations of misconduct, and the parties also agreed on the sanctions they considered appropriate.

¶6 The referee, Jonathan V. Goodman, reviewed the stipulation and accepted the factual allegations of the third amended complaint as his findings of fact. Based on those facts, the referee concluded that Attorney Krill had engaged in 24 separate acts of professional misconduct. Given the extensive nature of the

390 Wis.2d 473

allegations set forth in the stipulation and accepted by the referee, we provide a summary of each client matter, followed by summary information concerning Attorney Krill's misconduct.

AMSAH, LLC Matter (Counts 1-8)

¶7 In October 2014, Attorney Krill was hired to represent S.A. and Z.H. and their business, AMSAH, LLC. Attorney Krill represented these parties in two Racine County cases, each a dispute over the entitlement to insurance proceeds received from the settlement of a lawsuit.

¶8 In January 2015, $75,000 in settlement proceeds was deposited in Attorney Krill's IOLTA trust account. By the end of March 2015, Attorney Krill had disbursed all the funds without court or client authorization, and without accounting to the clients for his disbursement of the funds. In November 2016, $226,412.41 in settlement proceeds was deposited in Attorney Krill's trust account. By February 15, 2017, Attorney Krill had disbursed all the funds without court or client authorization and without accounting to the clients for his disbursement of the funds.

¶9 By the end of 2016, due to a conflict, Attorney Krill ceased representing S.A. and Z.H., but continued as counsel for AMSAH. In February 2017, the circuit court ordered Attorney Krill to provide an accounting of the $301,412.41 he was supposed to be holding in trust. In March 2017, the circuit court ordered Attorney Krill to transfer these funds from his trust account to the trust account of Z.H.'s successor counsel.

¶10 Attorney Krill failed to comply with any of the court's orders and was held in contempt. The circuit court ordered that Attorney Krill could purge

390 Wis.2d 474

the contempt by delivering the proceeds and providing a full accounting. In May 2017, Attorney Krill told the circuit court that he had "invested" the settlement money in bonds. Attorney Krill was not authorized to do this. Moreover, this representation was untrue. In fact, Attorney Krill had transferred the funds from his trust account to banks in the United Kingdom and China, and had issued thousands of dollars in checks drawn on the trust account, payable to himself.

¶11 At a status conference in August 2017, Attorney Krill promised the circuit court that he would deliver the proceeds "within two weeks." The circuit court issued an order providing that if the proceeds were not repaid within two weeks, the circuit court would order Attorney Krill to be jailed as a contempt sanction.

¶12 On September 6, 2017, the circuit court entered judgment against Attorney

938 N.W.2d 593

Krill in the sum of $301,412.41. City of Racine v. AMSAH, LLC, Racine County Circuit Court, case no. 2015CV1289. Attorney Krill did not deliver the proceeds by the circuit court imposed deadline and, on September 14, 2017, the circuit court ordered Attorney Krill jailed. On September 26, 2017, the circuit court ordered judgment against Attorney Krill in the sum of $48,000 as the accumulated contempt sanction for his failure to return the proceeds as ordered by the circuit court.

¶13 Meanwhile, by March 2017, S.A. had filed a grievance against Attorney Krill and the OLR asked Attorney Krill to provide information related to the AMSAH matters. Attorney Krill did not timely cooperate, failed to provide requested file materials, failed to provide business and trust account records, and still has not provided an accounting of the AMSAH proceeds.

390 Wis.2d 475

R.G. Matter (Counts 9-11)

¶14 In 2013, Attorney Krill was retained to represent Eric Murray ("Murray"). Many of the remaining allegations of misconduct relate to an "advance fee scheme" conducted by Murray.1 The complaint alleges that Attorney Krill provided services to Murray in connection with this scheme, with reckless disregard for whether Murray's transactions were fraudulent.

¶15 In September 2015, Murray offered R.G. an "investment opportunity" and provided R.G. with a Non-Disclosure Agreement ("NDA") form that Attorney Krill had prepared for Murray. Attorney Krill then made changes to a draft agreement between Murray and R.G. The parties agreed and the documents provided that R.G. would loan Murray $17,500 "to immediately close-out [a] Private Banking Transaction." In exchange, Murray would pay R.G. $72,000 within 14 days after execution of the agreement. R.G. was to wire the funds to Attorney Krill's trust account, then Attorney Krill would wire the funds to Murray's representative in England. Murray promised to deliver copies of various documents that would substantiate the transaction. The NDA prohibited R.G. from contacting any of the institutions or related parties to determine the legitimacy of the private banking transaction due to its "sensitive" nature.

¶16 All the documents purporting to substantiate the private banking transaction were forged and fraudulent. Relying on the forged and fraudulent documents

390 Wis.2d 476

provided to him by Attorney Krill, and the false and fraudulent representations regarding the purported private banking transaction contained in both the NDA and the agreement, R.G. wired $17,500 to Attorney Krill's trust account on September 25, 2015.

¶17 On September 29, 2015, Attorney Krill in turn wired $30,000 from his trust account pursuant to an international wire transfer to Lloyds Bank Plc, London, U.K., for deposit to the account of "Optra Sales and Services." This transaction included R.G.'s funds. Attorney Krill provided no written accounting to R.G. regarding his distribution of R.G.'s funds. To date, R.G. has not been repaid the...

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1 practice notes
  • Office of Lawyer Regulation v. Scholz (In re Scholz), No. 2017AP2530-D
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 10 Noviembre 2020
    ...We are free to impose discipline more or less severe than that recommended by the referee. In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Krill, 2020 WI 20, ¶54, 390 Wis. 2d 466, 938 N.W.2d 589, (citing 394 Wis.2d 234 In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Elliott, 133 Wis. 2d 110, 394 N.W.2d 313 (......
1 cases
  • Office of Lawyer Regulation v. Scholz (In re Scholz), No. 2017AP2530-D
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 10 Noviembre 2020
    ...We are free to impose discipline more or less severe than that recommended by the referee. In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Krill, 2020 WI 20, ¶54, 390 Wis. 2d 466, 938 N.W.2d 589, (citing 394 Wis.2d 234 In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Elliott, 133 Wis. 2d 110, 394 N.W.2d 313 (......

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