Former Cook County Judge Accused of Embezzling Decorated Airman's Life Savings Required to Pay $1.2 Million

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Allegations of Financial Betrayal Shock Local Judicial System

Former Cook County Judge Patricia Martin finds herself at the center of a scandal involving the alleged embezzlement of a decorated airman's life savings. The accusations have sent shockwaves through the legal community and raised serious concerns about the integrity of the judicial system.

Oscar Wilkerson, was a highly decorated Tuskegee airman, one of the first black military pilots who fought in WWII. He had amassed a substantial amount of savings and investments through years of dedicated service to his country. Entrusting his financial affairs to Judge Patricia Martin, a relative whom he believed he could rely on, Wilkerson never anticipated the alleged deception that would unfold.

After 24 years on the bench, Martin retired, renowned as the top juvenile judge in child protection cases for the Cook County judicial system. Shorty before she retired, a doctor who had been acting as Wilkerson's power of attorney asked the judge to help him manage the veteran's financial affairs. Martin became his power of attorney responsible for managing Wilkerson's accounts, including his retirement funds and social security account. She agreed to use his money only for his benefit.

The next month Wilkerson moved into an assisted living facility. Around the same time, Martin was said to close two of the veteran's accounts, keeping over $115,000 that she withdrew and using it to invest in cryptocurrency in her name. Subsequent to that theft, Martin was alleged to steal more of Wilkerson's money which she used to buy more cryptocurrency in her own name.

It wasn't until 18 months later when the assisted living facility contacted the doctor who had previously been Wilkerson's sole power of attorney to inform him that the veteran's bill had not been paid for two months that the embezzlement was discovered. By that point he owed over $41,000 and the facility terminated his residency, forcing him to move out.

Over the next month, the doctor discovered that several of Wilkerson's accounts had a zero balance and hired an attorney to file a complaint against Martin. The attorney attempted to contact the judge for several weeks but she failed to answer his questions about where the money had gone.

Wilkerson's attorneys filed suit and took Martin to court last year and records show she initially responded, admitting that she had "wrongfully assumed control over [Wilkerson's] property, that she had no authority to use [Wilkerson's] funds for any purpose other than for his benefit, and that she had intentionally deprived [Wilkerson] of funds to which he was entitled."

However, following this admission, she was said to be unresponsive to the legal proceedings, failing to respond to requests for discovery. After numerous extensions, Wilkerson's attorney stated the documents had to be turned in by a specific date. On that date Martin's attorney stated she had drafter a response, however Martin was still gathering documents. The attorney then informed the court she was withdrawing as Martin's counsel. Because of the lack of reply, and in light of her initial admission of guilt, the court ordered Martin to pay over $1.1 million to Wilkerson's estate.

In addition to requiring Martin to pay Wilkerson's estate over a million dollars, the Illinois State Supreme Court is considering further disciplinary action. A civil suit against her has also been filed and is pending.

Oscar Wilkerson died in February of this year.

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Chicago, IL

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