Crime & Courts

Former County Board member faces action against law license

A panel concluded that attorney and former McHenry County Board member Robert Bless engaged in professional misconduct relating to a 2010 complaint against his law license.

But what rules the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Hearing Board says Bless broke, and what sanctions it recommends, will not be known until it releases its full report in the coming months.

The hearing board made its ruling Tuesday, a day after the hearing into the complaint concluded, said James Grogan, ARDC deputy administrator and chief counsel. 

The four-count August 2010 complaint filed by ARDC Administrator Jerome Larkin alleges that Bless inappropriately had a sexual relationship with a client, borrowed money from her, and entered business deals with her. It also alleges that Bless tried to influence her as a witness and tried to mislead ARDC investigators.

Bless, of Fox River Grove, could not be reached Friday for comment.

The complaint alleges that Bless' law firm in August 2005 agreed to represent Kathleen Scott, who was suing several parties over a 2003 work accident that killed her husband. Bless assumed responsibility for the case in January 2006.

Bless began having a relationship with Scott later that fall and which continued through his representation, according to the complaint, which also alleges that Bless borrowed at least $124,727 from Scott between 2007 and 2009.

Bless was elected as a Republican in 2008 to the County Board to represent District 1, which covers part of McHenry County's heavily populated southeast corner. He lost his 2012 re-election bid – the four open seats that went to three other Republicans and a Democrat.

The hearing board's full report and recommendations will go to the Illinois Supreme Court, which is the licensing authority for lawyers. Sanctions range from censure to disbarment.

Bless has had no previous action taken against his law license, which he received in May 2004, according to state records.

The ARDC's action is not the only professional problem that Bless faces.

Bless, a Cook County Sheriff's deputy, was stripped of his police powers and has been on administrative duty since at least last year, pending a case before the sheriff's office merit board. Bless allegedly was on injured duty status after a car crash, but was collecting income as an attorney and as a County Board member without filing the proper paperwork.

The sheriff's office is asking that Bless be fired, spokesman Frank Bilecki said. The case has been heard by the merit board and a decision is forthcoming.

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