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Former court commissioner suspended for 60 days

A fired Milwaukee County court commissioner convicted of filing false tax documents will not be able to practice law for 60 days, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Geneva McKinley’s suspension will begin July 31. The court, in a per curiam decision, declined to impose any restitution or costs, though, since McKinley stipulated to the misconduct and a referee was not appointed.

McKinley, who was appointed as a commissioner in 2007, pleaded no contest in May 2013 to two misdemeanor counts of filing false tax documents for underreporting her income in 2006 and 2007 by a total of more than $117,000, and therefore underpaying her taxes by nearly $33,000. The misdemeanors had been reduced from two counts of felony filing false or fraudulent tax returns.

Following McKinley’s plea, Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese ordered McKinley to serve 18 months’ probation, with a five-day jail stay tacked on as a condition. McKinley was subsequently terminated as a Milwaukee County court commissioner.

Her probation was terminated early and ended Monday, court records show.

Calling her misdeeds “a grave matter,” the court stated “Attorney McKinley’s criminal convictions and the resulting loss of her job have demonstrated that fact. The suspension of her license to practice law in this state, even though tempered in this instance because of mitigating factors, is a further indication that such conduct carries serious consequences.”

McKinley graduated from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in 1995 and was admitted to the State Bar of Wisconsin the following year.

She could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to a criminal complaint, McKinley filed income tax returns for the 2006 and 2007 tax years on the same date: May 28, 2008. She failed to report rental income she received each year on commercial real estate property she owned, according to the complaint, and also failed to report attorney’s fees she was paid for private legal work in 2006, prior to becoming a court commissioner.

For the two years combined, McKinley reported only $19,391 in adjusted gross income, when her actual adjusted gross income should have been reported as more than $135,000.

Following her conviction, McKinley reported herself to the Office of Lawyer Regulation and agreed to stipulate to the misconduct. The OLR filed its complaint in December.

The court, in its decision, noted that McKinley told Genovese that her actions corresponded with the death of her mother and depression. While the OLR did not mention this as a reason for recommending a 60-day suspension, the court said it clearly is a factor.

“Although the OLR could have provided more information about the impact of Attorney McKinley’s depression on her misconduct in the stipulation or in its statement in support of the stipulation, the OLR is clearly taking Attorney McKinley’s depression into account as a mitigating factor in the level of discipline it is seeking,” according to the opinion.

The court also noted that it has imposed harsher discipline on other attorneys who were convicted of tax crimes, but said it could only rule on the conviction itself.


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