Lawyer sentenced for hiding brother's bankruptcy assets in attorney trust account
Jan R. Kowalski of LaGrange, Illinois, 59, was sentenced following her guilty plea last year for helping her brother Robert M. Kowalski hide money in 2018. Image from Shutterstock.
A suspended Chicago-area lawyer was sentenced Tuesday to 37 months in prison for using her attorney trust account to help her brother conceal more than $357,000 from creditors in bankruptcy.
Jan R. Kowalski of LaGrange, Illinois, 59, was sentenced following her guilty plea last year for helping her brother Robert M. Kowalski hide the money in 2018, report the Chicago Tribune, Law360 and the Chicago Sun-Times.
A Department of Justice press release is here.
Prosecutors said Jan Kowalski tried to hide the scheme by fabricating documents and making false statement to the federal bankruptcy court.
Jan Kowalski and Robert Kowalski were placed on an interim suspension in 2021, according to the Illinois State Bar Association.
Robert Kowalski was convicted earlier this year for conspiring with the former president of the Washington Federal Bank for Savings to take out collateral-free loans and conceal assets and income in bankruptcy. He pleaded guilty to charges that include bankruptcy fraud, embezzlement and conspiracy. The bank collapsed in 2017 after a determination that it was insolvent and had at least $66 million in nonperforming loans.
A third sibling, William Kowalski, has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and is cooperating with prosecutors. He admitted that he and Robert Kowalski embezzled about $190,0000 to buy a boat that they named after a spell in the Harry Potter book series.
The bank president, John Gembara, apparently killed himself in a suburban Chicago home in December 2017.
Jan Kowalski had sought probation because she takes care of her elderly mother and her 30-year-old son for whom she has guardianship.
“My mother and father had three children, and all three of us are indicted and going to jail, probably,” she told U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall of the Northern District of Illinois. “And now there is no one to care for my mother.”
Kendall replied that “you were engaging in this activity when they were all adults and in need of help from you.”
Jan Kowalski will also have to pay $357,492 in restitution.