By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A former lawyer from Quincy avoided jail time Monday when he pleaded guilty to two lesser theft charges.
Devin Cashman, 53, pleaded guilty to two Class 3 felony theft charges as part of a plea agreement. As a result, a Class 1 felony theft charge, which carried with it mandatory jail time and up to a 15-year sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections, was dismissed. Judge Eric Pistorius, who was assigned to the case from the Seventh District, agreed to the plea agreement.
Cashman will be on probation for 24 months, pay a $3,000 fine and serve 500 hours of community service. He pleaded guilty to stealing more than $500 but less than $10,000 in each of the counts.
The criminal charges were filed in March after a complaint to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission last year. The complaint alleged Cashman took nearly $200,000 from client trust bank accounts without authorization for personal and business uses.
According to the ARDC, Cashman agreed in 2008 to represent the estate of the late Elizabeth L. Wilkins. He drew at least $162,571.75 in proceeds belonging to the estate by negotiating checks payable to himself or taking cash from his trust account.
Between May 2008 and November 2009, Cashman wrote 16 checks payable to himself or to cash from his trust account from the estate. Cashman used the funds for his own business or personal expenses without the authority of the estate's representative or the court. In October 2009, Cashman prepared a final report in the Wilkins case. At Cashman's request, the executor of the will signed the report, and Cashman filed it. The report falsely stated that the estate's assets had been distributed to the persons entitled to receive them under the decedent's will.
In 2010, Cashman was holding funds on behalf of Craig Cherington, executor for the Meta Lichtenberg estate, which was pending in Adams County. From March to June 2010, Cashman used $15,250 of the funds belonging to the Lichtenberg estate by writing seven checks to himself out of his trust account. Cashman used the funds without the authority of the estate's representative or the court.
In 2011, Cashman was holding funds on the behalf of Elsie Lichtenberg and on behalf of the Lichtenberg estate for the purposes of paying income taxes. Between April 2011 and July 2011, Cashman used $19,250 of the funds belonging to Elsie Lichtenberg and the Lichtenberg estate by writing five checks to himself out of his trust account. Cashman used the funds without the authority of the estate's representative or Elsie Lichtenberg.
State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutor Ed Parkinson of Springfield said during Monday's hearing that Cashman had used the money he took to "pay for a failed business venture. He helped himself to the funds on a periodic basis."
"He left a paper trail, which we were able to track," Parkinson said.
Parkinson noted that all of the money that Cashman stole was repaid to the victims, plus any penalties, before any criminal charges were filed.
That factor, Pistorius said, was important in his agreement to accept the plea bargain.
"The fact that restitution was made before the charges were made is a mitigating factor of great extent," Pistorius said. "I don't find that any other penalties are necessary."
Other than correcting Parkinson on the fact that the money was paid back in November 2011 instead of December of 2011 as Parkinson had said, Cashman said little else at the 15-minute hearing. He declined to address the court when asked by Pistorius if Cashman had anything to say on his own behalf.
Cashman was disbarred by the Illinois Supreme Court on Sept. 17. He had been licensed to practice law in Illinois since November 1984 and was a partner in his own firm in Quincy.
He was charged with theft over $100,000 on March 29. Cashman has been free on a $50,000 recognizance bond.
Cashman will have a status hearing on July 12 to update the court on his community service progress.