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Disbarred Wisconsin attorney claims OLR mistakes

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Disbarred Wisconsin attorney claims OLR mistakes

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A former University of Wisconsin-Platteville professor who had his law license rescinded last month calls the process a “farce.”

John Ifediora, who now lives in Virginia, where he currently serves as president of the Council on African Security and Development and is a member of the economics faculty at American University in Washington, D.C., lost his license following a decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court based on a Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation report stating he practiced law with a suspended license and mishandled a client’s funds that should have been placed in a trust.

According to that report, Ifediora represented his cousin, Osita Anthony Aboloma, who was trying to receive a visa through the Immigrant Investor Program, while his license was suspended. He sought to receive the visa by investing $500,000 in U.S. Foods and Pharmaceuticals in Madison. His license was suspended for not keeping up with continuing education. In addition, the report said Ifediora kept some of his cousin’s assets for himself.

Aboloma filed a grievance against Ifediora with the OLR in January 2020 after his visa was denied.

After reading the OLR report, Ifediora wrote an amended complaint against court referee James Friedman, pointing out places where he thought Friedman made mistakes and that information about Aboloma’s legal troubles in Nigeria, which would provide a motive as to why he would lie about Ifediora’s involvement, was ignored. After Ifediora’s report that he stole government money to invest in a U.S. firm, Aboloma was fired from his government post and is under criminal investigation in Nigeria.

In his complaint to the OLR, Ifediora said Friedman was wrong to allow Aboloma and Rajan Vembu, the CEO of U.S. Foods and Pharmaceuticals, to listen to each other’s testimony, allowing them to match their testimony.

“I don’t think he (Friedman) could hear everything going on or was paying that close of attention,” Ifediora said.

Before the decision went to the Supreme Court, Ifediora filed an appeal but later withdrew it.

“I knew it was pointless and did I really want to spend all that money to get back an attorney’s license that I wasn’t using?” Ifediora said.

READ THE CASE DIGEST

Instead, Ifediora said he decided to share his side of the story with a written response so others could see how his case was mishandled. “I don’t want others to go through what I did with the OLR,” he said.

“What Aboloma said was all made up. The documents were also made up. Aboloma wanted to get back at me for reporting him to the government,” Ifediora continued. “I was never his attorney. I only assisted him as my first cousin and a family member who asked me to find him an attorney and an EB-5 center to file his visa application for permanent U.S. residency.”

When reached for comment about Ifediora’s written response to Friedman’s report, the OLR declined to comment.

Ifediora said he earned a legal degree to help his academic pursuits.

“I was never a lawyer,” he said.

Ifediora also denied receiving money directly from his cousin.

“The OLR says I didn’t place his money in a trust, but I didn’t have his money. He wrote a check directly to U.S. Foods and Pharmaceuticals,” he said. “I didn’t have a trust account since I wasn’t practicing law.”

As for the $200,000 that Ifediora received from Vembu, he said those funds were for a conference he was organizing in Nigeria. The business helped sponsor the event, which received the funds.

“It was a successful conference and allowed him to introduce his company and their products to Africa,” Ifediora said.

After his cousin did not receive his visa, Ifediora told Vembu he needed to return Aboloma’s $500,000 investment. Vembu told Ifediora he was not able to do so at the time since it was being used. Ifediora said he then reported Vembu to the FBI for financial fraud; no charges were filed.

Ifediora said Vembu and Aboloma agreed for U.S. Foods and Pharmaceuticals to keep the money if Vembu testified against him in the OLR case.

“My actions didn’t endear me to Vembu. That was all in evidence, but Friedman ignored it,” he said.

Information and documents about Aboloma’s legal problems were also available, but Ifediora said Friedman and OLR attorney Thomas Laitsch “deliberately elected to ignore them.”

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