A civic-minded judge whose inspiring rags-to-riches story helped her become the first Filipina elected to the Cook County bench was indicted Wednesday on mortgage fraud charges.
Judge Jessica A. O’Brien, who presided over a small-claims courtroom and had served in prominent roles on numerous bar association boards, allegedly lied and concealed relevant facts from lenders to obtain more than $1.4 million in mortgages on two South Side investment properties that she purchased and sold between 2004 and 2007.
O’Brien was then working as a special assistant attorney general for the Illinois Department of Revenue, where she also reportedly held the position of chief counsel to the Illinois Lottery. A spokesman for the Department of Revenue was not able to confirm that Wednesday afternoon. She resigned from the department after she was elected judge in 2012, the spokesman said.
O’Brien was reassigned to non-judicial duties Wednesday by 1st Municipal District presiding Judge E. Kenneth Wright Jr., a spokesman for Chief Judge Tim Evans said. An executive committee of Evans and 17 other judges will meet next week to decide whether O’Brien will be removed from the bench while the case is pending.
O’Brien, who is married to a judge, immigrated to the United States after high school, earning degrees in culinary arts and restaurant management, according to her online biographies. She then made a career change and went to John Marshall Law School, graduating in 1998 and later serving on its board.
She was the first Asian elected president of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and also served on the board of governors for the Illinois State Bar Association. The judge also co-founded a foundation in 2008 that award scholarships to law students from diverse backgrounds.
While working for the Department of Revenue, O’Brien also owned a real estate company and worked part time as a loan officer for a Lincolnwood business, federal prosecutors say. Her co-defendant Maria Bartko also worked at Amronbanc Mortgage Corporation as a loan originator.
In August 2004, O’Brien applied for a mortgage on a property in the 600 block of West 46th Street, falsely stating that she made $6,800 a month as an IDR attorney and omitting the $260,000 she and Bartko owed on another property they’d purchased, according to the charges.
A little over a year later, O’Brien refinanced mortgages on that property and another she bought a month later in the 800 block of West 54th Street, falsely stating she made $20,000 a month at her realty company O’Brien Realty LLC.
In 2006, she applied for a commercial line of credit to pay expenses on the two properties, falsely stating that her realty company made a $100,000 annual profit, the charges say. A year later, O’Brien decided to sell the properties to Bartko.
The future judge allegedly paid Bartko and a straw buyer to purchase the two properties, according to the charges.
She is scheduled to be arraigned next week.
Her husband, attorney Brendan O’Brien, was elected as a Cook County judge last year.
As an update, Judge O’Brien was indicted and voted removed from the bench, but placed on administrative leave, so she still is getting a paycheck
Must be nice.
Once again, we see the effectiveness of the ARDC protecting the corrupt. By now, with an honest ARDC, a complaint should have been filed against her to disbar her. Anything on file? Nope, of course not!
ARDC Individual Attorney Record of Public Registration and Public Disciplinary and Disability Information as of July 6, 2017 at 9:00:00 AM:
|Full Licensed Name:||Jessica Arong O’Brien|
|Full Former name(s):||Jessica Vasquez Arong|
|Date of Admission as Lawyer
by Illinois Supreme Court:
|November 5, 1998|
|Registered Business Address:||Not available|
|Registered Business Phone:||Not available|
|Illinois Registration Status:||Active and on Judicial Status – Last Registered Year: 2016|
(Current as of date of registration;
consult attorney for further information)
|As the attorney serves in the office of justice, judge, associate judge or magistrate, the attorney is not required to report whether he/she carries malpractice insurance.|
|Public Record of Discipline
and Pending Proceedings:
now we all know if she was blogging about corruption, the ARDC would go after her lock, stock and barrel.
Just another example of how the ARDC covers up corruption in Chicago.
Find an indictment on a lawyer/judge charging them with lying and greed, you will see the ARDC back off and wait until they turn states evidence and agree to cooperate with the authorities (Seth Gillman)
Find an attorney that speaks out against corruption (Ditkowsky and Amu) and you will see swift, vigorous prosecution.