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Madison-area attorney fighting referee’s revocation recommendation

A Middleton attorney is appealing a recommendation that his Wisconsin law license be revoked.

The Office of Lawyer Regulation in July 2015 had filed a complaint alleging Patrick Sweeney had committed five counts of misconduct, including that he practiced law while his license had been suspended, failed to pay filing fees in a bankruptcy case even though he had been ordered to do so and misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars belonging to companies he had part ownership in.

The OLR sought the revocation of Sweeney’s law license, meaning he would be indefinitely banned from practicing law in Wisconsin but would be able to apply for reinstatement after five years.

The allegations also landed Sweeney in federal court, where a grand jury indicted Sweeney on charges that included wire fraud and identity theft.

As part of a plea deal he took in July 2017, Sweeney pleaded guilty to filing the false declaration in the bankruptcy proceeding and the court dismissed the charges of wire fraud and identity theft. Sweeney was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $481,970 in restitution.

In the disciplinary case, Sweeney initially denied the allegations in the complaint but later reached a stipulation with the OLR in which Sweeney pleaded no contest to all the allegations in the complaint.

They also agreed that the record in the federal criminal case would become part of the factual record on which the court-appointed referee in the case, James Boll, would base his recommendations.

While the OLR remained firm on its request for Sweeney’s license to be revoked, Sweeney contended that the conduct he admitted to warranted only a yearlong license suspension.

However, Boll disagreed with Sweeney in a report filed in July. He recommended that Sweeney’s license be revoked and that the high court order Sweeney to comply with the restitution order issued in the federal criminal case.

Sweeney filed notice on Aug. 20 that he would be appealing Boll’s recommendation. Sweeney is representing himself in the appeal, according to court records. The matter is in briefing.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will consider Sweeney and the OLR’s arguments concerning the appeal before issuing a final decision in the appeal.

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