CHICAGO (FinalCall.com) –Federal U.S. prosecutors dramatically reduced 15-counts of felony charges against attorney Erik A. Martin, a successful Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney, and Chris Claxton, a Christian radio host, to a single Class B misdemeanor Oct. 16.
Atty. Martin and Mr. Claxton both faced a 15-count federal indictment with a possible 25 years prison time when the two were originally charged back in May of 2001 with bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy.
In an unprecedented move, attorney Martin and Mr. Claxton agreed to federal prosecutors’ request that the two waive all rights to sue investigators, attorneys and other federal employees involved in investigating their case.
The two plead guilty to a contempt of court class B misdemeanor charge for filing a false document as part of a court-ordered investigation into their financial relationship. The two still face five years of probation. Both parties must wait for the presiding judge to solidify the plea deal on Dec. 13, which also includes a guarantee from federal prosecutors that the two receive no jail time.
The original indictment alleged that the two “concealed an arrangement in which Claxton solicited individual debtors through his radio broadcasts and referred them to Martin, who then filed personal bankruptcies on their behalf and shared substantial fees with Claxton or his business,” announced then U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Scott R. Lassar, May 17, 2001.
“Now it’s time to get on with my life,” said Mr. Claxton. “The federal government has taken seven years of my life; the civil and criminal case combined. I’m pinching myself, trying to take a deep breath and exhale.”
Mr. Claxton attributed the dropped charges to a new team of federal prosecutors who took over the case after the departure of former lead prosecutor in the case, Lori Lightfoot, who currently serves as the head of Chicago Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards.