A former Chicago judge accused of stealing $240,000 from her veteran uncle has had her law license stripped.
The Illinois Supreme Court has immediately suspended Patricia Martin, who served on the Cook County bench for 24 years, after she admitted her wrongdoing.
Martin, who is often photographed in gold jewelry, had been put in charge of managing the savings of her uncle Oscar Wilkerson Jr., her uncle.
His family and the state’s legal disciplinary agency alleged she stole $240,000 of his money and put more than $100,000 into cryptocurrency.
Martin was ordered to pay her uncle three times that amount, a total of $1.1 million dollars, to his estate after failing to respond to court orders and hearings.
According to a statement obtained by CBSMartin acknowledged that the “evidence would clearly and convincingly establish the facts and conclusions of misconduct.”
Patricia Martin, who served on the Cook County bench for 24 years, was in charge of Wilkerson’s savings
Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, pictured here, delivers remarks during the 85th Support Command’s African American/Black History Month held at headquarters, Feb. 7.
The outlet also reported that the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission said, “She deliberately used for her own purposes more than $240,000, which she had agreed to keep for an elderly relative living in a nursing home.
“Made false statements to the doctor who had her relative’s power of attorney over the balances in his bank and investment accounts, and failed to provide documents in response to a subpoena from the ARDC.”
Despite her confession, Martin has argued that she does not have to pay the $1.1 million to her uncle’s estate as he is now deceased.
Her attorney wrote, “The death of the plaintiff suspends the court’s jurisdiction in this case.”
Wilkerson was a highly decorated Tuskegee aviator and civil rights pioneer who was one of the first black military pilots to fight for the United States in the war before settling in Chicago.
He entrusted his ex-wife’s niece Martin to take care of his finances as his health deteriorated, but sued her last September, saying she took advantage of his old age and hid his retirement money.
The veteran died one day before his 97th birthday on February 8 spent his final days in a senior living facility in Orland Park while Martin took care of his bank, 401k and Social Security accounts.
She served as a judge for 24 years and was chairing the child protection division of Cook County Juvenile Court when she retired in 2020, a month after taking control of Wilkerson’s finances.
The veteran died a day before his 97th birthday on Feb. 8, and Cook County Circuit Judge Anna Demacopoulos ordered Martin to pay $1.2 million in damages, fees and costs in May.
Wilkerson, who died in February at age 96, was a highly decorated Tuskegee aviator and civil rights pioneer who was one of the first black military pilots to fight for the U.S. in the war.
He entrusted his ex-wife’s niece Martin to take care of his finances as his health deteriorated, but sued her last September, saying she took advantage of his old age and hid his money.
In April 2022, she reported that he had about $50,000 in his checking account and $120,000 in a retirement account, according to the original lawsuit.
But in July, alarm bells went off when Wilkerson was reportedly told he owed $41,296.10 to the retirement home he was living in because no payments had been made in recent months.
He discovered that his accounts had been “emptied” and it was not clear where his Social Security and pension payments were being deposited, according to court documents.
According to court records, Martin did not respond to questions about where the money had gone or requests for information during the trial.
And in October, Wilkerson’s attorneys said they had raised their concerns with the Cook County Prosecutor’s Office, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the Illinois Department of Aging.
They alleged that less than a month later, former Judge Martin had “wasted funds and potentially entered into risky crypto transactions that threaten remaining existing funds.”
After Wilkerson’s death, Martin was ordered by Judge Demacopoulos to “refrain from transferring or using any further funds” during an April 6 hearing.
Wilkerson’s attorneys obtained records through a subpoena showing his money was transferred to cryptocurrency exchange accounts that were emptied, according to a May 11 filing.
The latest transactions occurred between April 6 and April 28 and totaled $2,875.29 and violated the judge’s order.
Wilkerson joined the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black aviation combat unit, after dropping out of high school in 1944 and their bravery in World War II helped pave the way for desegregation
The veteran’s lawyers then wrote a letter to the judge asking Martin to show why she should not be held in contempt of court and order her to return the money and show where she put it.
They then reported that a total of $383,236.75 had been withdrawn from his accounts and that other people had to come together to pay the money owed to Wilkerson’s retirement home.
And the lawyers asked for Martin to be sanctioned for not answering the questions or providing details of where the money went, asking for a default judgment of $1,229,384.31.
During her career, Martin was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2013 to the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.
Wilkerson joined the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black aviation combat unit, after dropping out of high school in 1944.
Wilkerson, the last known surviving member of the group in Chicago, introduced children to aviation and took them on their first flights for free
The group faced significant racial discrimination during its service due to the military’s segregation at the time.
‘The army had no intention of using black pilots. The real mission, the underlying mission, was that we were going to fail and prove their point,” Wilkerson previously said in an interview.
But their courage in the war helped pave the way for desegregation. In 2006 they received a Congressional Gold Medal.
He regularly toured churches and schools to tell the story of how the Tuskegee Airmen broke the stereotype that black men could not be fighter pilots.
Wilkerson, the last known surviving member of the group in Chicago, introduced children to aviation and took them on their first flights for free through the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles Program.
He also worked as a DJ and presented his own radio program until his retirement.