Legal Ethics

Vet Lost Home After Lawyer Drafted Trust Rather Than Will, Ethics Complaint Says

A lawyer in suburban Chicago has been accused in an ethics complaint of helping a couple swindle an elderly veteran out of his home.

Lawyer Gary R. Williams is accused of creating a living trust that gave control of the assets belonging to Angelo Biondo to the World War II veteran’s oldest son and wife, the Chicago Tribune reports. According to the disciplinary complaint, Biondo had asked Williams to draft a will and he didn’t realize the papers he signed were a trust agreement.

Biondo, now 85, wanted legal help because he wanted to move into a retirement home after the death of his wife to be close to his veteran friends, the story says. But court documents allege the son and daughter-in-law, Bernard and Sharon Biondo, used their new legal authority to sell the elder Biondo’s home and to force him to buy a dilapidated home they owned.

Williams was the lawyer on both deals, according to the disciplinary complaint and a malpractice suit filed against Williams. The couple allegedly charged Biondo $500 a month in rent, and used sale proceeds to buy a vacation home for themselves.

The malpractice suit has settled, Biondo’s new lawyer told the Tribune. No criminal charges have been filed in the case.

According to the story, Williams’ law license was suspended for two years in the 1980s after he was found guilty of federal mail fraud for falsely reporting that his car was stolen. He is a lawyer in Tinley Park, Ill.

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