Complaint: Former Cook County judge misappropriated nearly $250,000, buying cryptocurrency with elderly man’s funds

A former Cook County judge has been accused in an attorney discipline complaint of taking nearly $250,000 from the bank accounts of a 95-year-old man she was tasked with assisting financially and using the funds for her own purposes, including buying cryptocurrency.

Patricia Martin, who stepped down as presiding judge in the child protection division in 2020, is the subject of a fraud complaint filed May 31 by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, which handles allegations of lawyer misconduct.

Martin did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Tribune.

In November 2020, a doctor who held a power of attorney for a 95-year-old friend recommended the man move to an elder care facility and asked Martin, the niece of the man’s former spouse, to help the doctor manage the man’s financial affairs, according to the complaint. Martin said yes and agreed to use the man’s funds only for his own benefit.

About a month later, the man moved into a suburban senior living facility, the complaint said.

On Dec. 26, 2020, Martin, the complaint alleges, holding herself as his power of attorney, closed out two of the man’s bank accounts, withdrawing $115,353.45. A few days later, Martin used the funds to purchase $110,000 in cryptocurrency in her own name and exclusive control, the complaint alleges. She never asked permission from the man or the doctor to do so, according to the document.

Between February 2021 and October 2022, Martin used more of the man’s money “without authority, to make additional cryptocurrency purchases for her own benefit, as well as towards her own personal purposes,” the complaint says.

In July 2022, the senior living facility contacted the doctor to let him know that the man’s bills had not been paid in about two months, and his account was more than $41,000 in arrears, according to the complaint. About a week later, the facility terminated the man’s residency.

The following month, the doctor discovered the closed bank accounts with zero balances, according to the complaint, and hired an attorney to look into Martin’s handling of the man’s finances.

The attorney corresponded for several weeks with Martin “without obtaining answers to his questions.”

In all, the complaint alleges, Martin took about $246,203.80 of the man’s money for her own use.

A panel investigating the matter found merit to file the complaint accusing Martin of fraud for allegedly misappropriating the money she was supposed to be managing for the man. It also accuses her of lying to the man and the doctor about it and failing to cooperate with the investigation.

The case will then be set for a hearing, which could result in discipline such as suspension or disbarment.