Vernon Hills lawyer arrested
Updated: September 23, 2012 6:32PM
CHICAGO — A Vernon Hills lawyer is accused of using bankruptcy clients’ credit cards for personal use, and then adding the debt to the bankruptcies.
Bradley F. Aubel, 47, was released on a $10,000 secured bond after he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez Thursday. Acting U.S. Attorney Gary S. Shapiro and Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI William C. Monroe announced the arrest and charges in a press release Friday.
Aubel faces federal fraud and obstruction of justice charges. He allegedly obstructed an investigation by bribing a witness in the credit card scheme and engaged in separate fraud schemes involving an auto loan and student loans, the press release said.
He was charged with one count each of mail fraud, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
Unbeknownst to Aubel, someone who had worked for him for roughly 10 years began cooperating with the FBI in the summer of 2011 and engaged in text messaging with Aubel that is detailed in the federal complaint.
A year earlier, that person had been arrested on identity theft charges in Lake County relating to use of one of Aubel’s bankruptcy client’s credit cards. Aubel regularly had asked the employee to perform illegal activities on Aubel’s behalf, the woman told authorities.
Aubel allegedly suggested that she plead guilty and serve a sentence, during which time, Aubel would continue to pay her salary and mortgage. In addition to paying the mortgage, Aubel allegedly paid the informant’s sister $6,000 to go to Mexico so she’d be unavailable to talk with the FBI or to testify against Aubel.
Authorities also allege that Aubel obtained a 2011 Honda Fit through fraudulent financing, falsely claiming he earned $6,666 a month and supporting his claim with bogus tax returns.
At Aubel’s direction, the informant created the false returns, and Aubel told her that he had not filed tax returns for the last several years, the complaint states.
At the same time, Aubel allegedly directed the employee also to create a different set of bogus tax returns showing that he earned little income for use in his request to the U.S. Department of Education to forbear on collecting more than $100,000 he owed on student loans.
These returns showed earnings of $8,663 in 2008, $7,578 in 2009, and $7,018 in 2010, despite the fact that he had not filed actual returns for any of those years, according to the press release and complaint. “Records show Aubel defaulted on his student loans in November 2008, and owed a total of $106,073 in principal and interest,” the release said.
Mail and wire fraud each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution is mandatory.
The court also may impose a fine totaling twice the loss to the victim, or twice the gain to the defendant, whichever is greater.
Obstructing justice is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Aubel has been a lawyer since 1997. His preliminary hearing is scheduled in U.S. District Court Oct. 16.