The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission has charged a suburban attorney with five counts of misconduct, including misleading advertising in a Spanish newspaper and possessing marijuana in a federal building.
Jorge Antonio Rodriguez runs the Law Offices of Jorge A. Rodriguez in Mundelein, and also maintained an office in Palatine, according to the complaint filed against him on Dec. 3. (You can see that here.)
Beginning “in or about February 2012,” Rodriguez began advertising in Reclama, a Spanish newspaper, with a photo of himself and his paralegal Guillermo Ruiz, both holding the title “JD.”
“Ask for Guillermo Ruiz, JD,” the ad continued.
Rodriguez hired Ruiz “to assist [Rodriguez] in generating business in the Spanish-speaking community,” according to the complaint. But Ruiz was Rodriguez’ paralegal, not an attorney.
Although Ruiz received a two-year law degree in Peru back in the 1970s, Rodriguez “had no reason to believe that Ruiz had received any legal training in the United States, or that Ruiz was authorized to practice law or to hold himself out as an attorney in the United States,” according to the complaint.
“By placing the names and photographs of [Rodriguez] and Ruiz beside each other, with the same credentials, [Rodriguez[ intended the advertisement to lead others to believe that Ruiz was a licensed Illinois attorney,” although he was not and has never been, the complaint said.
Rodriguez also advertised Ruiz as an attorney in an office sign, according to the complaint.
Palatine and Mundelein are both relatively small communities, with populations of about 70,000 and 31,000 residents, according to census data. Both have solid and steadily growing Latino communities.
In 2010, Latinos were 18 percent of Palatine’s residents, up from 14 percent a decade earlier.
In Mundelein the percentage increased from 24 to 30 percent.
Rodriguez’s advertisement lists immigration as one of his firm’s specialties, alongside criminal cases, bankruptcies and DUI/traffic.
In addition to the misleading advertisement charge, the ARDC is also taking note of Rodriguez’s criminal record.
Rodriguez has a conviction for violating his wife’s restraining order in Alexandria, Virginia. He was found guilty after a bench trial in May 2011, according to the complaint, but did not report it to the ARDC within 30 days of the entry of judgment.
He also has a conviction for possession of marijuana, according to the ARDC complaint.
On February 7, 2011, Rodriguez went to the federal building at 101 W. Congress “to handle an immigration matter.” He was caught with marijuana in his pocket while entering the building.
That May, he pled guilty to the offense and paid a fine of $175, plus $25 in court costs.
Further to that conviction, Rodriguez was charged with misrepresentation to the ARDC.
This past September, Rodriguez appeared at the ARDC’s office and was asked about any criminal convictions outside of his violation of the restraining order.
He told investigators that he’d brought a pocketknife into the immigration building on Congress, and had been charged with “disobeying the sign in a government building” prohibition possession of a pocketknife. That was a “misrepresentation,” according to the ARDC.
“[Rodriguez] had not been cited for possession of a pocketknife, but he had been cited for possession of marijuana,” according to the complaint. “[Rodriguez] misled the administrator because he feared that the administrator would view [Rodriguez’s] possession of a controlled substance as more serious than possession of a pocket knife.”
ARDC spokesman Jim Grogan explained that the ARDC has simply charged Rodriguez with misconduct. The matter remains pending.
Rodriguez has not filed a response to the ARDC’s complaint yet and did not respond to messages seeking comment. No one picked up several calls to his office line yesterday and his voicemail was full.
Jeff Kelly Lowenstein contributed to this report.
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