Former judge Patricia Martin ordered to repay $1.2 million for stealing the life savings of World War II veteran Oscar Wilkerson Jr.

Who is Patricia Martin?

Retired Illinois judge Patricia Martin finds herself embroiled in a scandal involving the alleged theft of a World War II veteran’s life savings. Oscar Wilkerson Jr., a highly decorated Tuskegee airman and civil rights pioneer, had entrusted Martin, who happens to be his former wife’s niece, with managing his finances as his health declined. However, accusations have emerged that Martin embezzled $240,000 from his accounts and invested over $100,000 in cryptocurrency.

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Wilkerson, who settled in Chicago after his military service, passed away just a day before his 97th birthday on February 8. Prior to his death, he had taken legal action against Martin, alleging that she took advantage of his old age and concealed his retirement funds.

Cook County Circuit Judge Anna Demacopoulos ultimately ruled in favor of Wilkerson’s family, ordering Martin to repay $1.2 million in restitution on May 24 due to her ongoing lack of cooperation.

During the litigation, it was discovered that Wilkerson’s accounts had been drained, leaving his Social Security and pension payments unaccounted for. Despite repeated inquiries, Martin remained unresponsive, providing no explanation for the missing funds. Concerns were raised about her involvement in risky cryptocurrency transactions and potential dissipation of the remaining funds.

After Wilkerson’s passing, evidence emerged showing wire transfers of his money to cryptocurrency exchange accounts, in direct violation of a court order freezing the funds. Attorneys representing Wilkerson’s estate demanded Martin be held in contempt of court, return the money, and provide a detailed account of its usage.

Approximately $383,236.75 had been withdrawn from Wilkerson’s accounts, leaving others to cover the debts owed to his retirement home.

In addition to the civil case, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) filed a complaint against Martin. The complaint alleges that she misused Wilkerson’s funds for personal purposes and neglected her obligations to the assisted living facility. If the allegations are proven, Martin could face disbarment.

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Despite the loss of his life savings, Wilkerson’s legacy as a Tuskegee airman and advocate for racial equality remains. His bravery during World War II helped break barriers and his dedication to sharing his experiences inspired younger generations. Wilkerson introduced children to aviation through programs like the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles Program, leaving an indelible mark on his community.