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updated: 8/22/2011 7:12 PM

Lawyer sentenced to work release for removing his electronic monitoring device

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A Chicago lawyer who unlawfully removed his court-ordered GPS monitor was sentenced Monday to 60 days in a work-release program that allows him to leave confinement for 40 hours each week to work.

Bruce Jorgensen, 53, pleaded guilty Monday to criminal damage to property, a class 3 felony punishable by two to five years in prison or probation. Cook County Judge Hyman Riebman also sentenced Jorgensen to 24 months probation, the first 12 of which will be intensive probation, and ordered him to serve 120 days in Cook County Jail.

"I'm giving you an opportunity to rehabilitate yourself," said Riebman, who awarded Jorgensen credit for the 64 days he has spent in custody. ""This is your one opportunity to stay out of prison." Prosecutors had requested a longer sentence for Jorgensen, a graduate of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago and a member of the bar since 1986.

"You've had a lot of opportunities in life. You've had an opportunity to become a lawyer, a member of the bar," Riebman said. "With that comes a responsibility you have as a lawyer. You must be held to a higher standard."

This is not the first time Jorgensen has found himself on the wrong side of the law. Court records show he was sentenced to 15 months probation in 1998 for misdemeanor battery. Cook County prosecutors say he was sentenced to conditional discharge on April 8, 2011, for violation of an order of protection sought by his wife, and criminal damage to property for damaging a park district tree.

Questioned about the order of protection, defense attorney James Maher said his client has never been a threat to his wife.

On April 28, 2011, he was again charged with violating the order of protection and placed on electronic monitoring as a condition of bail. Jorgensen pleaded guilty to damaging that monitoring device Monday in Rolling Meadows. Prosecutors say he has another felony case pending in Skokie on charges that he unlawfully removed a second monitoring device.

The Illinois Supreme Court censured Jorgensen on Nov. 22, 2000, after he was convicted of misdemeanor battery of another man who suffered a broken nose following an altercation in the men's room of a Chicago bar, said a spokesman from the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. Jorgensen was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution, the spokesman said, adding that Jorgensen is not the subject of any public disciplinary process at this time.

However, Jorgensen must report his conviction to the ARDC within 30 days, at which point the commission may open an investigation.

In sentencing Jorgensen, Riebman suggested the attorney's problems stem from a "serious alcohol problem."

"Every alcoholic hits rock bottom. Standing before me you have hit rock bottom," he said.