Lawyer faces 5-month suspension for lying about capital contribution to law firm

  • Print

businessman with fingers behind back

Image from Shutterstock.

The founder of an Illinois law firm is facing a five-month suspension for “engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Chicago lawyer James Rollins fabricated and provided documents to his partners at Sinars Rollins to make it appear that he paid his capital contribution to the firm and then fabricated additional documents to hide those actions, according to a report filed by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission’s hearing board Thursday.

“Over the course of several months in 2016, respondent fabricated and submitted purported bills, receipts or bank statements to the Sinars Rollins LLC firm that he asked to be credited toward his $100,000 capital contribution obligation,” the ARDC said. “Those documents, totaling $81,859.39, purported to establish that respondent had paid various vendors for services to or equipment for Sinars Rollins LLC.

“However, the documents were false. Of the $81,859.39 that respondent claimed that he had paid for services to or equipment for the firm, he had actually paid only $18,071.81.”

The ARDC continued that when the firm’s bookkeeper noticed irregularities in Rollins’ documents, he provided the firm with two false checks. He later admitted what he had done to his partners, saying he was “very sorry” and wanted to stay with the firm. He was given the opportunity to pay the full $100,000 capital contribution, which he did within a year and a half.

“At hearing, respondent admitted his misconduct,” the ARDC said. “He testified that what he did was ‘wrong’ and ‘horrible’ and a ‘horrible decision on [his] part,’ and that he let his partners and his family down.”

Rollins said several factors led to his poor decision, including “that he had not been paid in eight or nine months, and, when the firm partners asked about his capital contribution, he did not have the money to pay it and could not come up with the money at that time because he was barely getting by, trying to save his house and marriage and support his then-infant children,” the ARDC added.

The ARDC, in recommending a five-month suspension, rather than the administrator’s requested one-year suspension, took into account Rollins’ acknowledgement of his misconduct and remorse for his actions.

According to Reuters, which reported on the decision, Rollins left the firm, now known as Sinars Slowikowski Tomaska, in 2019, and he is now a partner at Sullivan & Associates in Chicago.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.