On Tuesday, December 12, 2023, Injustice Watch reported that newly unsealed court records raised questions about Illinois Appellate Court Justice Carl Walker’s alleged involvement in a massive mortgage fraud scheme from decades ago.

The records, unsealed after a months-long investigation by Injustice Watch, shed new light on Walker’s legal work for Kenneth Steward, who orchestrated a fraud ring that scammed millions from banks and lenders through bogus real estate deals in Chicago neighborhoods in the early 2000s. Steward recruited straw buyers and used forged documents to flip properties multiple times over, leaving empty homes and dragging down property values.

According to the documents, Walker served as the attorney for Steward and his companies in at least 29 fraudulent real estate transactions between 2000-2001, earning $650 to $975 per closing. In some instances, records indicate Walker took on multiple roles, representing both buyers and sellers in the same deals. Civil lawsuits also alleged Walker failed to properly verify documents, authorized the diversion of mortgage funds, and knew transactions were illegal.

Walker has long denied any wrongdoing. However, the documents raised questions as to whether Walker followed judicial disclosure rules while defending himself in related civil cases during his time as a judge. In 2006, he was elected a Cook County circuit judge.

The unsealed files also provided new context for the controversial 2003 raid on Walker’s law office by federal and state prosecutors investigating the fraud ring. Prosecutors believed Walker was complicit, but he was never charged. Walker accused prosecutors of racism and brought legal actions against them, unsuccessfully seeking a special grand jury.

The public records could impact a current case before Walker on the Illinois Appellate Court. In October 2023, the special prosecutor reviewing claims of police torture moved to disqualify Walker, arguing the judge held bias dating back to the 2003 raid. A decision on the motion is still pending.

The documents renewed long-standing allegations that continue to haunt Walker’s career as one of Chicago’s most prominent African-American judges. However, he maintains his innocence and argues the issues from decades ago will not influence his impartial decisions from the bench.

 

Source: Injustice Watch