ROCKFORD – A Sycamore attorney was sentenced Wednesday to two years in federal prison after being found guilty on federal bankruptcy charges this past summer, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office officials.
Kevin O. Johnson, also known as “K.O. Johnson,” 55, of Sycamore was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release, by U.S. District Judge Iain D. Johnston on Jan. 19.
“No restitution was ordered,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Fitzpatrick wrote in a Thursday email. Johnson was ordered to report to prison by March 14, Fitzpatrick said.
Mark Byrd, Johnson’s listed attorney, was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
According to federal court documents, the charges were related to Johnson filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Dec. 31, 2011. Federal prosecutors claimed Johnson refused to provide complete accounting to the bankruptcy trustee, who was charged with having control of Johnson’s property in the bankruptcy case, for legal client money coming in.
“It was part of the scheme that [Johnson] would hamper, hinder, impede and obstruct the bankruptcy trustee from timely obtaining full and complete information about approximately $1.79 million of account receivables that were owed to the defendant by his present and former clients,” court documents state.
Prosecutors also claimed Johnson intentionally ignored and failed to comply with a bankruptcy court order requiring him to turn over all of the money and accounting records to the bankruptcy trustee. According to court documents, Johnson asked his clients to sign misleading documents about the true nature of the payments they had made and would make to him.
Johnson claimed the $1.79 million was exempt property that he was entitled to keep, according to court documents.
Johnson was found guilty after a two-week jury trial in August 2021. The jury found Johnson guilty on four counts of bankruptcy fraud, one count of making a false entry in a document in a bankruptcy proceeding, one count of withholding records from the bankruptcy trustee and one count of concealment of property consisting of account receivables belonging to the bankruptcy estate.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, each charge carried a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. Every charge also carried a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greater.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office requested that Johnson be sentenced between 51 and 63 months in federal prison and two years of parole for the federal charges, according to federal court documents.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Illinois State Bar Association still lists Johnson as being a licensed lawyer within the State of Illinois.
Wednesday’s federal sentencing is the latest in a slew of legal issues over the years which involved Johnson.
Theft charges against Johnson were filed in 2013 within DeKalb County court and upgraded to felony status in 2014, according to court records. He is accused of withholding money from a former employee’s paycheck but failing to invest it in her retirement fund in 2012, court records show.
Unrelated to the previous charges out of DeKalb County court, the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission suspended Johnson’s law license for 18 months in January 2014. The suspension ended in August 2015. Johnson faced ethical sanctions for billing two divorce clients for attorney fees, knowing part of the fees had been discharged through the clients’ bankruptcy proceedings and he could not collect them, according to the commission.
The ethics complaint also accused Johnson of interfering with his own bankruptcy proceedings by asking his clients to ignore communication from the bankruptcy trustee. He also improperly asked clients to send him payments directly when those payments were part of the bankruptcy estate and should have been sent to the bankruptcy trustee, according to the complaint.
According to court documents, Johnson graduated from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1993 and a law degree from the university’s college of law in 1996, while being admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association in November 1996. He reportedly served in the Army National Guard from 1992 to 1998 and was honorably discharged thereafter.