A former Mount Prospect attorney who was voluntarily disbarred for neglecting and misrepresenting clients is now facing criminal charges alleging he continued to practice without a license -- and stole more than $10,000 in the process, authorities said Friday.
Salvatore "Sam" Tuzzolino, 45, of the 0-100 block of North School Street, was charged with theft and false impersonation of an attorney in a recent indictment handed up by a DuPage County grand jury.
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The felony charges accuse Tuzzolino of pocketing more than $10,000 given to him by a Bensenville printing company to pay a litigious creditor. He also is accused of filing an official court appearance in the civil case in December, despite agreeing to be disbarred by the Illinois Supreme Court a month earlier amid unrelated allegations of professional misconduct.
Reached by phone Friday, Tuzzolino maintained that he is innocent but declined to elaborate, citing his attorney's advice.
"Obviously, they're allegations that have yet to be proven," he told the Daily Herald. "I'm maintaining my innocence until we get into the court process."
A DePaul University graduate, Tuzzolino was licensed to practice law in 1991 and disbarred on Nov. 12, 2010, when he was partner at a Skokie law firm, according the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.
Records show he agreed to give up his license amid complaints of misrepresentation and neglect involving three clients who hired him to recover failed investments.
In one case, he told a couple their $40,000 claim was settled when, in reality, no settlement had been reached and no lawsuit filed. In another, he informed a client of a settlement in a lawsuit that actually was dismissed, records show.
If convicted in the criminal case, Tuzzolino could face three to seven years in prison. Prosecutors said he also would be eligible for probation.
Tuzzolino is free on a $1,000 bond. His next court appearance is Aug. 16 in Wheaton before Judge John Kinsella.