Cook County judge Jessica O’Brien indicted on federal financial fraud charges

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Cook County Circuit Court Judge Jessica A. O’Brien, the first Filipino American judge elected in the county, was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on charges of bank fraud and mail fraud affecting a financial institution.

Judge Jessica A. O’Brien

O’Brien has been re-assigned to non-judicial duties until the Executive Committee of the Circuit Court of Cook County meets early next week, according to Chief Judge Timothy Evans’s office.

O’Brien is charged with deceiving lenders to refinance $1.4 million in mortgage and commercial loans, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois. O’Brien then allegedly used the fraudulent proceeds to buy an investment property in Chicago, and fraudulently refinanced that mortgage and that of another Chicago investment property before selling the properties to her co-defendant Maria Bartko, according to the indictment.

O’Brien was employed full-time as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the Illinois Department of Revenue while owning a real estate company and working part time at Amronbanc Mortgage Corporation as a loan officer during the alleged financial fraud scheme, the indictment states. At the Attorney General’s office, O’Brien specialized in litigating income and sales tax cases, according to a judicial evaluation conducted by the Chicago Council of Lawyers in 2012. She worked at the Attorney General’s office starting in 2000 and until she was elected to the bench.

O’Brien ran for a circuit judge seat in 2012, and was found qualified for the position by both the Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Chicago Bar Association.

The transactions in question occurred between 2004 and 2007, according to the indictment.

Before the indictment, O’Brien was sitting as a judge in Cook County Circuit Court’s First Municipal District hearing non-jury civil cases. The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois did not respond to requests for comment.