A disbarred Elmhurst attorney has agreed to pay back $225,000 he admitted stealing from a client's estate to keep his law practice afloat.
Earl Wilcek, 59, also will perform 200 hours of public service work and serve 30 months of probation and 90 days in jail under an agreement with prosecutors Friday.
Wilcek pleaded guilty in February to a felony theft charge alleging he misappropriated funds from an estate to pay personal and office bills.
Between January 2008 and June 2010, he took $225,000, according to Assistant State's Attorney Diane Michalak, who said the theft was uncovered during an outside accounting of the estate.
Wilcek told authorities he took the money to save his struggling law practice, court filings and police reports show.
"He was very forthright," Michalak said.
Wilcek fought back tears Friday as he addressed DuPage County Judge Robert Kleeman and more than a dozen family members and friends seated in the courtroom gallery.
"I want to apologize again to the victim, the court and the prosecutors," he said.
Wilcek said he was grateful for supporters who helped raise $150,000 to pay immediately in restitution. The remaining $75,000 will be paid during the course of his probation, defense attorney Jim Ryan said.
Wilcek, an Elmhurst resident, became a licensed attorney in 1981. He practiced real estate and family law for more than 30 years before being voluntarily disbarred last year.
Outside of court, his daughter, Elizabeth Harrigan, defended him.
"My dad is an amazing individual and he spent his entire life serving people," she said.
Wilcek had faced up to 15 years in prison.