In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Patrick S. Sweeney, Attorney at Law:
Patrick S. Sweeney, Respondent-Appellant. Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant-Respondent,
PROCEEDINGS AGAINST SWEENEY
disciplinary proceeding. Attorney's license revoked.
We review the recommendation of the referee, James C. Boll,
that Attorney Patrick S. Sweeney's license to practice
law should be revoked due to his professional misconduct. The
referee also recommended that Attorney Sweeney be ordered to
pay restitution consistent with the terms of an order imposed
in a related criminal matter, and pay the costs of this
proceeding which are $10, 338.75 as of August 17, 2018.
Attorney Sweeney opted not to pursue an appeal of the
referee's report and recommendation.
We adopt the referee's findings of fact and conclusions
of law and agree that the seriousness of Attorney
Sweeney's professional misconduct warrants the revocation
of his law license. We further agree that he should pay
restitution, as recommended by the referee, and that he
should pay the costs of this proceeding.
Attorney Sweeney was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in
1992. He practiced in the Madison area. He has not previously
been subject to professional discipline but his law license
is presently administratively suspended for failing to pay
state bar dues and failing to certify his compliance with
trust account record keeping requirements.
On July 10, 2015, the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) filed
a disciplinary complaint alleging that Attorney Sweeney
committed five counts of professional misconduct and seeking
revocation of his law license. Attorney Sweeney filed an
answer and this court appointed Referee James C. Boll.
The disciplinary proceeding was adjourned several times. On
January 6, 2017, after Attorney Sweeney was indicted on
related criminal charges, the referee determined there was
cause to defer the matter pending resolution of the related
federal criminal prosecution. See United States v.
Sweeney, No. 16-CR-103 (W.D. Wis. 2017); SCR 22.41.
The federal indictment alleged that from March 2007 until
March 2011, Attorney Sweeney devised a scheme to defraud
three limited liability companies in which he held a
member's ownership interest. Attorney Sweeney approached
the co-members of the companies and proposed that the
companies loan $105, 000 to $115, 000 to a friend of Attorney
Sweeney. The loan was purportedly secured by a home mortgage.
Attorney Sweeney did not loan the money to his friend, but
instead converted the funds to his own use.
The indictment alleged that Attorney Sweeney drew checks
totaling approximately $420, 000 on the companies'
checking accounts. When asked for the original promissory
note, Attorney Sweeney provided a false document bearing the
forged signature of his friend. The indictment also alleged
that on February 14, 2013, Sweeney made a false declaration
in a bankruptcy matter when he submitted a sworn "List
of Creditors" that falsely listed the embezzled funds as
"loans to debtor" in an effort to obtain a
discharge in bankruptcy of his obligation to repay the funds
he had embezzled. Finally, the indictment alleged that in
March 2011, Attorney Sweeney committed identity theft during
and in relation to the alleged scheme to defraud.
Attorney Sweeney ultimately entered a guilty plea to Count
Two, the bankruptcy charge. On November 17, 2017, the federal
court sentenced Attorney Sweeney to five years of probation,
with the first year on home confinement, and ordered him to
pay restitution of $481, 970. See Sweeney, 16-CR-103
(W.D. Wis. 2017).
Shortly after Attorney Sweeney's federal sentencing
hearing, Referee Boll scheduled a status conference in this
disciplinary proceeding. On January 22, 2018, the parties
advised the referee that Attorney Sweeney had agreed to
stipulate to the underlying counts of the disciplinary
complaint and that both parties would submit briefs on the
question of the appropriate sanction.
On January 31, 2018, the parties executed a stipulation in
which Attorney Sweeney withdrew his answer and pled no
contest to each of the five allegations of misconduct alleged
in the OLR's disciplinary complaint. The parties agreed
that the disciplinary complaint, the record in the federal
criminal prosecution, and the terms of the stipulation could
serve as the factual basis for the referee's factual
findings and determination of misconduct.
In the stipulation, Attorney Sweeney stated that he
understood the misconduct allegations, his rights to contest
the misconduct allegations and the factual basis for them,
that his entry into this stipulation was made knowingly,
voluntarily, without coercion, and without the benefit of any
negotiations for a reduction in either charges or sanctions
in this matter. He stipulated that his ...