Saturday, February 07, 2015

Judicial Inquiry Board files complaint against Judge Beatriz Santiago

John Flynn Rooney reports in Friday's Chicago Daily Law Bulletin that the Judicial Inquiry Board has filed a Complaint with the Illinois Courts Commission alleging that Judge Beatriz Santiago "made misrepresentations on a mortgage application regarding a residence" she owned outside the 6th Judicial Subcircuit. Judge Santiago was elected from the 6th Subcircuit in 2012.

WGN News suggests that its 2013 investigation helped spur the JIB's action. Certainly WGN and its partner in the investigation, the Medill Watchdog Group, did raise questions about whether Judge Santiago (and several other judges) were really living where they claimed to live. I haven't yet seen the actual JIB Complaint, although I've requested it. But, judging from Rooney's article, the JIB complaint does not dispute that Judge Santiago told the truth about moving back into the 6th Subcircuit before filing for judge (something that was contested at the time, but resolved in Santiago's favor); rather, it charges her with misrepresenting to a bank, in the course of applying for a new mortgage, after she was elected, about her intention to move back outside the 6th Subcircuit.

In the Law Bulletin account, Rooney writes:
The JIB complaint asserts that between June 2013 and March 2014, in connection to the refinancing of the Spaulding mortgage, Santiago “attempted to and did deceive her mortgage lender by making several misrepresentations in her mortgage application documents that caused her lender to believe she intended to occupy the Spaulding property as her primary residence within 60 days of executing a mortgage agreement, when in fact she resided at another property and had no intention of establishing residency at the Spaulding property.”
The mortgage application was mentioned in the December 4, 2013 Medill Watchdog report:
In August [2013], the investigation by Medill Watchdog and WGN Investigates found, Santiago took out a new mortgage on her property outside the subcircuit for $184,500. One of the conditions of the mortgage: That the house would be her primary residence, absent an agreement in writing to the contrary by the lender. No such agreement was filed in the public record.
The Illinois Courts Commission will have to decide whether the JIB's charges against Judge Santiago are well-founded and in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct. If so, the judge could be subject to a range of sanctions from an unpaid suspension for a period of time up to and including removal from office.


Anonymous said...

Judge Beatriz Santiago was an exemplary Cook County Public Defender for over 15 years and has been a great Cook County Circuit Court Judge for over 2 years. The fact that she now has to spend a great deal of time and money defending herself on charges which resulted from a television show featuring the documented alcoholic, Mark Supelssa, is a real travesty.

Does the Judicial Inquiry Board, (J.I.B.) even know it is being used? What else can explain this reaction to a television show featuring an alcoholic tele-prompter reading celebrity? It is clear that this is a witch hunt of the highest order. In fact, J.I.B. proceedings initiated by television shows can only be described as biased, prejudicial, arbitrary and capricious and as such should not be legitimized in any way. It’s the type of “cover your ass” mentality that can lead to the slippery slope of over-reaction and regret. A respondent in those proceedings has no right to confront the witness against him/her and has no right whatsoever to discovery. Just like the Spanish Inquisition. Murderers, rapists and child-molesting defendants in our criminal courts have more rights than the respondents hauled into J.I.B. proceedings.

Further, and even more disturbing, is the fact that the only judges targeted by the alcoholic at WGN and the J.I.B. are judges that are of modest means. (And/or married individuals of modest means.) And if they also happen to be minorities, well that’s even better. Hey, if it looks like a class issue and smells like a class issue then it is a class issue. It appears that the only evidence they have against these judges are that they had to borrow money from banks and hence had mortgage documents recorded against them or heaven forbid, refinance their mortgages to lower their monthly payments.

And why is that? Why is it a class issue? Because the wealthy don’t need mortgages to buy homes. They just pay cash. So WGN and Sidley and Austin will only be happy when judges look just like them, wealthy and privileged.

The J.I.B. is a joke and should be subject to investigation itself. And its “prosecutor”, some guy from Sidley and Austin named Gallo, is being used as a tool. How fitting that his last name is spelled like that cheap wine. How sad that the J.I.B. has become the tool of the documented alcoholic, Mark Supelssa, who probably needs to do another stint at the Hazeldon rehabilitation facility in Minnesota if all WGN will allow him to do is to engage in character assassination stories under the guise of “investigative reports”. But then again, nothing would make the all-male members of the J.I.B and the good old boys at Sidley and Austin happier than a judiciary that is elite, privileged, rich and, for the most part, lily white.

As for WGN, they should move away from the politics of personal destruction and move into the realm of respectable journalism.

Submitted by the well-educated at E.P.

Anonymous said...

What is so sad about this story is that it takes the JIB so long to act. I was involved in the 6th sub circuit race in 2012 and I can tell you it was no secret that Judge Santiago lived in the 7th. She purchased her home in the 7th and lived there and, as the story goes, returned to her parents over crowded home to take care of her dad. At the same time, as luck would have it, she then becomes a candidate in the 6th.

It was not the least bit surprising that she survived a residency challenge as she had political clout in her corner. How may judicial candidates do you know where Chairman Joe Berrios actually ordered Scott Cisek, director of the Cook County Democratic Party, to run their campaign? This was one lucky Latina but it looks like the truth is catching up to her and her luck is running out.

This has not been a good two months for Hispanic female judges. Judge Gloria Chevere, Santiago's mentor, was removed from her call after failing to follow contempt rules, and now this.

It is my hope that the JIB permanently remove Judge Santiago from the bench.

Anonymous said...

Commenter #1 must have been sipping Mark Supelssa's tea when they wrote that glowing diatribe of someone who, with the help of the Cook County democratic party, clearly perpetrated a fraud. Judge Santiago thought she was free and clear once she survived the ballot challenge, and then as in all Greek mythology, commits the fatal flaw -- she failed to run her mortgage application by Joe Berrios and Scott Cisek for a look over. Those words at the bottom of the application "Under penalty of perjury" are there for a reason. Berrios and Cisek through caution to the wind, their sole goal was to get a Latina elected from the 6th subcircuit, and once she was on the bench, the fraudulent manner in which she got elected was her problem.

Anonymous said...

To the authors of the 2nd and 3rd comments; it's interesting that you only mention two Puerto Rican judges in your criticisms. What do you have to say about the white judges (Sherlock, Kaplan, etc.)that were also highlighted in the WGN/Supellsa story? You say absolutely nothing about them. Even though one of them allegedly lives in Lake County! But I guess that doesn't fit your narrative. So I think what writer number 1 said is right on point. The J.I.B. seems to be picking and choosing its targets based on some other criteria.

Anonymous said...

Commenter#1 is sipping something a lot stronger than Mark Supelssa's tea. Judge Santiago clearly engaged in both election fraud and mortgage fraud and does not belong on the Bench. How is this Judge's misconduct the fault of the JIB, WGN, Mark Supelssa, or Mr. Gallo? As a public defender for 15 years one would have hoped Judge Santiago learned that individuals are prosecuted for illegal activity. Why should she be above the law?

Commenter #1 believes that the prosecution of Judge Santiago is racially motivated as she is not "lily white". What? The powers that be in Cook County LOVE diversity. Clearly Commenter #1 has missed the frequent public statements made by Toni "the Judge maker" Preckwinkle who vowed to "never slate another white Irish for Judge". After all, she says, since "her" jails are filled with African Americans, it is only fitting all the judges be African American. Commenter #1 also must have missed Joe "I will slate you for Judge if you have a Latin last name even if you don't speak Spanish" Berrios who also has a track record of supporting Latina candidates, qualified or not. In all fairness to Joe, however I must say that he has NEVER turned away a campaign contribution check when it is being handed to him by a lily white hand.

There is no conspiracy to embarrass or discredit Latin Judges. Judges Chevere and Santiago seem very good at doing this all by themselves. There are many fine and well respected Latin Judges in Cook County. Commenter #1 should be celebrating the accomplishments of Latin Judges like Jorge Alonso, who will soon be sworn in as a Federal Judge, not wasting their breath defending a Judge who is an absolute disgrace to the Bench and a disgrace to her own ethnicity.