7th Circuit, Attorney Misconduct, Legal Ethics, Tobacco / Smoking

This Illinois Attorney Could Lose His Law License — For Smuggling Cuban Cigars

If you’ve ever smoked a Cuban cigar, raise your hand. Okay, now you can put it down. If you have not ever smoked a Cuban, please stop lying. Or maybe not, if you want to keep your law license.

Wait, what? If every attorney who smoked the occasional Monte Cristo got disbarred, Bane would be in charge of American law right now. But not every attorney is sentenced to 37 months in prison for smuggling “trunkloads” of the wonderful contraband into the U.S…

The New York Law Journal has the story of Richard Steven Connors, an attorney who stands to lose his license over his alleged pursuit of of the perfect smoke (and perhaps a bit of extra cash):

The hearing board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission on August 9 recommended stripping the law license from Richard Steven Connors, convicted in 2002 of violating the Trading with the Enemy Act, falsifying information on his passport and conspiracy. Connors, sentenced to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay a $60,000 fine, denied the allegations. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed his conviction in 2006.

The ethics board found that Connors had engaged in criminal acts that reflected adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer. It also found that his conduct “tended to bring the legal profession into disrepute.” The recommendation was first reported by the Legal Profession Blog.

Oof. That’s rough. Although to be fair, Connors was a public defender, so maybe he needed to add a little spice into his rough PD life. I mean, I know it’s illegal, but maybe he needed a little bit of extra money to pay off his student loans? Even prosecutors are resorting to desperate measures to get some more money in the bank.

Connors was making frequent trips to the country because his girlfriend at the time was Cuban. And apparently the cigars he brought back over his 31 trips to Cuba were worth about $350 per box. (Connors has denied all the charges, even though the Seventh Circuit upheld the conviction several years ago.)

On the other hand, he’d already had his license suspended once for “misappropriating client funds.”

Sometimes there’s nothing like a good cigar at the end of a long day, but you gotta watch out, because as they say, where there’s smoke there’s fire.

Disbarment By A Cigar [Legal Profession Blog]
Board Calls for Disbarment of Cigar-Smuggling Lawyer [New York Law Journal]
Report and Recommendation of the Hearing Board [Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission via Legal Profession Blog]

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