Robert Beck, 50, had handled estate work for clients, including some who were elderly and had dementia, DuPage County prosecutors said.
“You had a sacred trust to the most vulnerable clients a lawyer can have,” Judge Liam Brennan told Beck before handing down the sentence.
Beck pleaded guilty in September to a single count of theft, admitting that he stole almost $700,000 from one deceased client. Prosecutors alleged that his total thefts from other clients may have reached $1 million. Beck improperly shuffled around as much as $1.2 million of clients’ money in an ongoing attempt to evade discovery, prosecutors said.
By the time he was apprehended in 2014, Beck was spending about $29,000 a month for household expenses, which included boat payments, prosecutors said when Beck pleaded guilty.
Beck, of Mount Prospect, was identified as a Wheaton attorney at the time he was charged. He faced four to 15 years in prison, and the judge said Tuesday he would have imposed a longer sentence if supporters of Beck had not agreed to pay restitution on his behalf.
Brennan also said the attorney had led an otherwise exemplary life and had no criminal history. Assistant State’s Attorney Diane Michalak asked for a 10-year sentence. Beck could be eligible for parole in a little more than two years.
The judge also said he believed that Beck was truly remorseful. Beck tearfully apologized before his sentence was imposed and said he was trying to be accountable for the chaos his actions had caused his family and clients.
Clifford Ward is a freelance reporter.