CRYSTAL LAKE – A Crystal Lake lawyer facing drunken driving and weapons charges had his law license suspended.
The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission ruled that Donald F. Franz, 50, is suspended for two years and until further order of the court, according to a news release.
Franz was arrested Jan. 19 after police responded about 10:20 p.m. to North Williams Street in Crystal Lake after a report of a possible intoxicated motorist. Crystal Lake police later obtained a warrant to search Franz’s vehicle and residence. Inside, they found 36 high-powered rifles, assault-style rifles and shotguns; 20 assorted handguns; and thousands of rounds of ammunition, authorities have said. Franz is believed to be a hunter.
He already was under investigation by the ARDC after threatening an ARDC employee.
The commission first filed a complaint against Franz in 2014, alleging that he pressured a client to sign a promissory note requiring the client to pay a $10,000 fee for legal representation in a divorce without informing the client of his options.
An additional count was added to the complaint last year, alleging that Franz challenged a client to a duel and insulted him during a dispute over fees.
In October, a third count was added to the pending complaint, accusing Franz of sending threatening emails and voicemails to a former client, commission counsel Scott Renfroe and ARDC administrator Jerome Larkin.
Franz allegedly threatened to kill Larkin over the ARDC’s efforts to sanction him as recently as September 2016, according to the complaint.
“Jerry Larkin, my name is Don Franz. I’m the attorney you are trying to murder because of the installment note, so the day you suspend me, I’m going to stop taking my pills, I’m going to get my affairs in order, I am going to kill you. Have a nice day,” Franz allegedly said in a voicemail message to Larkin on Sept. 14, 2016.
The ARDC, an agency of the Illinois Supreme Court, investigates alleged wrongdoing by Illinois attorneys, holds hearings on specific charges and recommends discipline when warranted.
The state Supreme Court announced disciplinary orders Friday during the September term of court. Sanctions are imposed when lawyers become engaged in professional misconduct by violating the state’s ethics law, according to the release.
Franz was licensed in 1993 and removed from the master roll March 10 after failing to register, according to the release.
Franz has pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges against him, and he has tried to argue that evidence collected during his arrest cannot be used against him in court. The most serious charge, a Class 2 felony, is punishable by up to seven years in prison if convicted.
He is due in court at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 30.