Former Cook County judge faces felony charges for allegedly stealing from Tuskegee Airman

By Chicago 3 Min Read

Former Cook County Judge Patricia Martin returned to Cook County Court last week to face criminal charges for allegedly stealing several hundred thousand dollars from the accounts of the last known surviving member of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Martin appeared in Bridgeview court Friday, where she now faces seven charges for allegedly withdrawing more than $100,000 from Oscar Wilkerson Jr.’s accounts.

She is accused of doing so over a two-year period that began when Martin was given control of Wilkerson’s finances when the 90-year-old World War II veteran moved into a nursing home in Orland Park in 2020.

Martin, who headed the Cook County Juvenile Court system’s child protection division until she retired from the bench in 2020, is the granddaughter of Wilkerson’s ex-wife. Wilkerson, the last known member of the pioneering all-black Tuskegee Airmen, died in February, a day before his 97th birthday. Martin was not formally arraigned Friday because her case will be assigned to a judge outside of Cook County, she said. attorney, Michael Leonard. Martin now lives in Missouri and has been allowed to return to the state, according to court documents. His next court hearing is set for December in Bridgeview.

Martin, who has already been disbarred and faces a $1.2 million civil judgment for the alleged theft from Wilkerson, will fight to clear her name, Leonard said.

“He’s definitely trying to defend himself vigorously,” Leonard said. “She is a wonderful person with an incredibly positive reputation and we expect everything to come out of this proceeding.”

The charges in the indictment against Martin, filed Nov. 9, include theft, money laundering, financial exploitation of an elderly person and operating an ongoing criminal enterprise. Prosecutors allege Martin took money from Wilkerson’s accounts and used it to purchase cryptocurrency.

According to a civil lawsuit filed against Martin before Wilkerson’s death, Martin stole more than $380,000 from Wilkerson, and Wilkerson learned the money was missing when he received a bill for $40,000 in unpaid taxes from his nursing home.

Wilkerson’s lawyers said Martin drained her bank and retirement accounts and repeatedly accessed the accounts even after a judge ordered her not to. That judge in May entered the $1.2 million judgment against Martin and urged Wilkerson’s lawyers to pursue criminal contempt charges against Martin.

The day after the ruling was handed down, the Lawyers’ Disciplinary and Registration Commission filed a complaint against Martin. Martin surrendered his license, admitting in a disciplinary statement that the allegations in the complaint would be proven.

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