CONVICTED FELON TOOK CASH TO ACT AS
ATTORNEY, ENTER PLEAS
Wednesday, January 5, 2011— A convicted felon spent years formally entering dozens of court appearances and representing clients as an attorney, even though it doesn’t appear he’s ever spent a day in law school, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Friday.
Tahir Malik, 47, of Skokie, is charged with two counts of false impersonation of a lawyer, which is a felony. He has been held at the Cook County Jail on an earlier contempt of court and false impersonation charge since Dec. 17, when staff in a Skokie courthouse – including a Sheriff’s Deputy – grew suspicious of Malik’s behavior at a hearing before Judge Earl B. Hoffenberg. Malik was questioned at that time and it was learned he is not licensed to practice law. As he was taken into custody, deputies found documents in his possession tying him to more than 60 other cases.
The ensuing investigation by the Cook County Sheriff’s Criminal Intelligence Unit found he has been involved in dozens of other cases in traffic court, mortgage foreclosure and low-level criminal cases in the Skokie, Bridgeview and Daley Center courts, as well as cases before various city hearing boards. Though some of those clients have been identified and contacted by investigators, Dart has also established a hotline at 773-674-6466 for others to call if they are willing to discuss Malik’s representation of them in cases.
“No one suspected anything for years because he did everything right – except obtain a law degree,” Dart said. “From his own arrest history, he was familiar enough with the court system to make certain motions and file certain documents with the court. There is no question that dozens of people from all over Cook County were misled by this guy.”
Since he was taken into custody, investigators have been attempting to connect documents found in his possession with a case number and the original cases themselves. They are then reaching out to the litigants to determine the amounts paid to Malik and the legal work he performed on their behalf. Investigators have learned he charged anywhere from $500 to $4,500 – all paid in cash – depending on the type of case he was handling.
Among those clients already contacted are those cited with assorted traffic violations. Malik not only handled their cases, but entered pleas on their behalf and represented them at sentencing hearings where they received community service.
Malik himself has a lengthy criminal history, as he served time in the Illinois Department of Corrections on a burglary conviction. He has also been arrested on charges ranging from theft and shoplifting to criminal trespassing.
Malik appeared in bond court at 26th Street today, where bond was set at $250,000. He continues to be held on the earlier charges and will appear in Skokie on Tuesday for those. He will appear again on the false impersonation charges on Jan. 28 at 26th-California.