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Naperville attorney accused of stealing $675,000 is disbarred
By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff

Steven D. Gustafson

 

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Published: 5/25/2010 2:10 PM

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A Naperville attorney accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients and former law partners has been disbarred.

Steven D. Gustafson, 46, suspected of stealing more than $675,000, also faces theft, forgery, financial institution fraud and financial crimes enterprise charges.

The allegations surfaced while he was a shareholder in the now-defunct law firm of James, Gustafson & Thompson in Naperville. The firm was dissolved Feb. 21, 2006, and all but one of his former partners have sued Gustafson.

The partners alerted the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, which sparked the criminal investigation. The commission, which disbarred the lawyer this month, had suspended him on Sept. 1. Gustafson did not appear at a recent discipline hearing to try to keep his law license, obtained in 1991.

Gustafson is accused of stealing and mishandling money from clients and his partners dating back to 2001 and using the funds to pay his own business and personal expenses.

In one case, Gustafson urged a client's parish priest to use $577,000 of church treasury money to cover an account that the attorney is suspected of depleting for his own use, according to court documents. The priest declined, but he did get a parishioner to donate $77,000, the documents state.

Gustafson is free on bond and due to appear Friday before DuPage Circuit Judge John Kinsella as his criminal case continues.