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Illinois lawyer accused of sexually related and other inappropriate behavior faces disciplinary complaint and sanctions

Hello everyone and welcome to this JACPA Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent disciplinary complaint alleging that an Illinois lawyer, inter alia, exposed her chest to female co-workers to get their opinion on her breast augmentation surgery (twice), was intoxicated and exposed her chest to Illinois state workers at a tavern, showed nude images of herself to co-workers, threatened someone who was dating the same person, was “intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and fell to the floor screaming, then ran outside into traffic”, turned in false time sheets, and went shopping during work hours.  The case is In the Matter of: Tamara Ann Tanzillo, No. 6196864, Comm. No. 2011PR00132 (filed November 15, 2011).  I am not making this up!

According to the Illinois Disciplinary Commission’s complaint, the lawyer was admitted to practice in 1987.  She was apparently also terminated from her $118,000-a-year job with the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services in November 2009 after an inspector general report found she had gone shopping while on the clock and engaged in “arguably decadent personal behavior.  The Disciplinary Commission conducted an investigation and recently filed the disciplinary complaint which makes the following allegations:

In July 2007, the lawyer allegedly arrived at her office building smelling of alcohol, informed a guard that the “Boss Lady” had arrived before dancing the hula inside an elevator.  Also in 2007, at an after-hours event for the opening of the Chicago office of two lobbyists, she was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and fell to the floor screaming, then ran outside into traffic.

In February 2008, at approximately 5:30-6:00 am, the lawyer allegedly called the guard at her office building and stated that she was unclothed in a car outside and needed something to wrap around her to enter the building.  Two women brought her a coat to cover herself and all three entered the building with the lawyer wearing the coat wrapped around her and covering her head and face.

On two separate occasions (no dates are provided), the lawyer allegedly exposed her chest to female co-workers at her office to request their opinion on the results of her breast augmentation surgery.  She also allegedly used her office computer to show “sexually explicit material and nude photos of herself and others” even after she had been warned not to engage in such activities (no date or dates are provided).

On April 2, 2008, the lawyer allegedly exposed her chest to two Illinois HFS officials at a tavern called J.P. Kelly’s in Springfield, Illinois.  She then spoke to the officials for several minutes.  At the time of that incident, she allegedly was unsteady on her feet and had been drinking.  Later on that same day, she allegedly went to a place called The Plaza, a downtown tavern and was wobbling and barely able to stand on her feet in the alley behind The Plaza.  She recognized a former Illinois state employee and allegedly loudly confronted the individual by stating that the former employee had “f—ing called my husband.”

On January 6, 2009 at approximately 1:30 am, the lawyer allegedly appeared at her office building dressed in sleepwear and barefoot, escorted by a man. She requested a master key from the guard, went upstairs to the executive offices, and then returned the key to the guard at the main entrance.  She and the man entered the elevator hugging and kissing.  She and her companion left the office at about 6:30 am.

In 2009, the lawyer allegedly engaged in criminal conduct by threatening a woman who was dating the same person and a criminal charge was dismissed after she completed a deferral program.  The criminal complainant alleged that the lawyer called her a “f—ing bitch”, made threats against her life, and told her that the person they were both dating had “taught her how to fire a gun”.

Finally (and more boringly), the lawyer allegedly engaged in conduct that was a breach of fiduciary duty and committed fraud by inflating her timecards and shopping while she said she was at work.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the attorney representing the accused lawyer says the disciplinary complaint is in retaliation for her refusal to fall in line with improper orders during the administration of former (and recently convicted and sentenced) Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

Bottom line:  Again, hopefully the bottom line is self evident.

…be careful out there!

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.





My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms.  If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend the complaint or help you get your license.

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