State Supreme Court To Consider Reinstating Law License For Former Milwaukee Attorney

Attorney Says Client Was Linked To Allegations Against His Father

Wisconsin Supreme Court
Photo Phiend (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The state Supreme Court will rule Tuesday on whether or not to reinstate the law license of a former attorney who spent five years in prison for trying to extort money from a Milwaukee vending machine business in 1984.

John Balistrieri, now 65 years old, lost his law license when he was convicted along with his father and brother. He has tried once before to have it reinstated.

Stephen Glynn defended Balistrieri in his federal trial and calls his one of the most unfair that he’s ever taken part in. He said the prosecution used the fact that Balistrieri’s father was an organized crime boss to link him to the extortion charges. Glynn said the only solid evidence against him was a phone call with an FBI agent that wasn’t recorded.

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“We spent three weeks listening to murders and bodies tossed in the river in New York and all this heavy New York City organized crime garbage that had nothing to do with John’s case,” Glynn said. “But, we were not allowed to separate his trial from the others.”

Glynn says his client only wants his law license back for his own self-esteem and because other lawyers with more serious felonies on their records got their licenses back soon after they were released from prison.

“His compliance throughout, I think it’s close to a quarter century since disbarment, has been, as far as I know, impeccable,” Glynn said. “He demonstrated an ability to stay away from trouble, which by the way he has for his entire life except for this one charge.”

But in a brief to the Supreme Court opposing allowing Balistrieri to practice law again, an attorney for the Office of Lawyer Regulation said that he hasn’t accepted responsibility for his crime and has tried to paint himself as only a pawn in his father’s criminal enterprise.