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posted: 11/21/2013 7:41 PM

Oak Brook attorney disbarred

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An Oak Brook attorney facing federal fraud charges has been disbarred by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Kathleen Niew, 57, who lives in Burr Ridge, is accused by prosecutors of misappropriating more than $2.3 million of her clients' funds over a two-year span.

Her law license was formally revoked Wednesday by the Supreme Court. The court previously suspended her license in May after a complaint was filed with the court's Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission hearing board.

"Disbarment is a determination that the lawyer has engaged in misconduct warranting the most serious sanction," according to a statement on the commission's website.

Niew was arrested by the FBI at her Oak Brook office in August.

She is accused of using client funds that were intended for closings on commercial real estate transactions for her own benefit. Prosecutors said Niew used the funds to finance purchases of various mining operations and received finder's fees in exchange for providing the funding. Prosecutors allege Niew lied to clients about the whereabouts of the funds and blamed a banking error for some of the misappropriations.

If convicted at trial, she could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Niew wouldn't be allowed to apply for a law license for at least another five years, and at that time must have demonstrated "rehabilitation, good character, and current knowledge of the law," the commission website states.

Officials say Niew was suspended for nine months beginning in July 2011 for notarizing false signatures and making false statements about her conduct to the commission.

State records show Niew was admitted as a lawyer by the Supreme Court on Nov. 5, 1981.

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