|By Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Dressed in a black blazer and striped skirt, Niew put her left hand on her attorney's shoulder — apparently to balance herself — as U.S. District Judge
"Are you having trouble standing?" Grady asked her at one point.
"No sir," she replied.
Preliminary calculations called for Niew to face up to 11 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, but Grady would be free to sentence Niew to whatever he deemed appropriate.
"Do you understand you are taking your chances by pleading guilty?" Grady asked.
Niew replied that she understood.
Sentencing was set for
She still faces separate federal charges in
Federal agents arrested Niew last August at her suburban law office, where she had specialized in estate planning and probate law. A 10-count indictment alleged that an
As part of the alleged fraud scheme, Niew arranged to receive a 20 percent finder's fee for herself from a mining operation in exchange for providing it with about
Prosecutors said Niew concealed her conversion of her clients' funds by telling the couple that the bank erroneously sent the money to the wrong bank accounts, even though she had not directed any such wire transfer to the title companies. The couple,
Months before her arrest on the federal charges, the Tribune detailed Niew's mounting legal troubles — including lawsuits by former clients and business associates who accused her of swindling them — and regulator efforts to suspend her law and insurance licenses.
Niew was disbarred by the
Records show Niew has a long history of disciplinary proceedings. In 2001, justices suspended her license for nine months based on allegations she forged clients' signatures. In 1989 the state disciplined her for falsely stating that she was single when she married her current husband, attorney
Niew, a mother of two and a graduate of
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