EDWARDSVILLE (Tribune News Service) — Members of the Madison County Board’s Judiciary Committee got an update regarding the firing and criminal charges against a former assistant public defender who had been practicing without a law license.
Madison County Public Defender John Rekowski said they were looking at approximately 80 cases handled by Kelcie Miller, who had been fired and charged with several felonies after it was discovered she had failed to pass the bar exam.
Rekowski told the committee Miller’s cases are being reviewed by both the public defender’s and state’s attorney’s offices.
“We’re notifying every client that we know of,” he said. Rekowski said the office has received eight calls from Miller’s clients and expect “a lot more” over the next few days.
Rekowski said that, starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, his office will be meeting with seven inmates who have been sentenced to prison time and would be brought back to Edwardsville.
He noted the most serious was someone who pleaded guilty to two felonies and received eight years, but had four felonies dropped.
In all cases, both he and First Assistant Madison County State’s Attorney Crystal Uhe, who was representing that office at the meeting, said Miller’s clients would be given the opportunity to reaffirm their original pleas and sentences or start over.
“They either get the deal they got, or start over,” Rekowski said, noting those who opt to start over could face tougher sentences.
He also discussed Miller’s situation, saying search warrants had been served on her, and that all county-owned property and case files have been accounted for.
A judge discovered Miller was not licensed when looking up the correct spelling of her first name.
Miller has been charged with felony theft of over $10,000, false impersonation of an attorney and forgery. Her bail was set at $100,000. The theft charge is the most serious and carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. The theft refers to money and benefits she received while being $57,000 per year.
The forgery charge alleges Miller produced falsified documents on May 20, apparently after being confronted about the status of her credentials and texting a fake license to Rekowski.
At Friday’s meeting, Rekowski said that, at one point, she told them in February she was attending a funeral but was actually taking a make-up bar exam in Chicago. She failed that exam.
“If she had passed in February, we probably wouldn’t have caught it,” he said. “When she failed in February everything unraveled.”
He also noted that moving forward they now require “Certificates of Good Standing” for every attorney in the office.
“I have no excuse for what happened,” he said.
In other business the committee approved the purchase of 48 “suicide preventative mattresses” at a cost of $5,131.20.
Deputy Sheriff Maj. Jeff Connor said they have made such purchases before, but it required approval because it went over the $5,000 threshold.
The mattresses are designed to make it difficult to be torn apart into strips that could be used by inmates to hang themselves. The large purchase is because inmates are being housed in the Alton Police Department’s jail, and the county agreed to pick up additional costs.
Connor also reported that 18 of the county’s 313 inmates in custody as of Friday were being housed in Alton because of ongoing renovations at the Madison County Jail.