Former archdiocese attorney, developer Laidley dies

  • Forrest David Laidley

    Forrest David Laidley

Updated 10/7/2016 4:45 PM

Forrest David Laidley, who was an Archdiocese of Chicago attorney and a developer who built an upscale mall in Lincolnshire and later went to prison for scamming investors in other projects, died this week.

He was 72.


The Libertyville man served as the archdiocese's general counsel under Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who led the Chicago area's Catholics from 1982 to 1996. Laidley went into private practice as a real estate lawyer after working for the archdiocese.

As a developer and owner of Forrest Properties Inc. in Libertyville, he built the Village Green at Milwaukee Avenue and Route 22 in Lincolnshire.

In October 2010, a federal judge sentenced Laidley to five years in prison for scamming investors and financial institutions through what prosecutors said was a Ponzi-style operation for retail and office projects. Laidley pleaded guilty to one count each of mail and bank fraud. He was released from prison last year.

Laidley was accused of fleecing investors of about $9 million from 1999 to 2004. As part of his apology in court, he said he was worth at least $22 million in 2000, but the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks a year later led to financial woes that stalled planned office and retail projects in Round Lake, Lincolnshire and Glenview.

He graduated from Yale University, where he played linebacker on the football team and belonged to the prestigious Class of 1966 Skull and Bones Society that included Secretary of State John Kerry and FedEx founder Fred Smith. Laidley graduated as captain of the football team.

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Longtime Lake County criminal defense attorney Jed Stone expressed sadness upon learning of Laidley's death.

"David was one of my most interesting clients," Stone said Friday. "A Yale graduate, David was smart. He was a man committed to his community. David was affable and quick-witted."

Laidley's survivors include his wife, Diane.

Visitation is 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at McMurrough Funeral Chapel, 101 Park Place, Libertyville. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 10 at St. Joseph Parish, 121 E. Maple Ave., Libertyville.

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