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Before his criminal indictment, attorney John Margolis was sort-of famous as the comedian "Excuseman."
Margolis created the alter-ego, took his shtick on the road, made YouTube videos and wrote books. It would have been an admirable career path for a serious lawyer, but a corney caped crusader who joked about those who "mess up and don't fess up?"
Apparently, Margolis didn't make enough as a comedian and kept his day job practicing law. That didn't work out either because he allegedly stole more than $1 million from clients.
Margolis, 64, pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft following an indictment for stealing $1.1 million from more than a dozen clients. He allegedly settled their cases without consent and kept the money. In his plea deal, he faces up to three years in prison.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Margolis "blew some of the money" promoting his comedic character. He paid for costumes, professional videos and three self-published books.
It wasn't funny to Illinois prosecutors or the state bar. He was disbarred, ordered to pay $675,000 in restitution, and $390,000 in a legal malpractice suit.
His legal troubles "baffled local attorneys" who knew Margolis, the Tribune said. He was a Northwestern Law School graduate from a family of well-known and accomplished lawyers.
"He had a spotless record for decades until these difficulties arose," said attorney Robert Loeb, who represents Margolis in the criminal case. "He has debts."
After losing his law license in 2015, Margolis tried to find work as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. Now, it looks like he'll have about three years to write in prison.
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