“Maybe it’s about time.”
Those three words suggest the answers in one of the nation’s most notorious unsolved cases may soon be solved. Attorney Joel Brodsky was representing suburban Chicago police officer Drew Peterson more than a decade ago when the officer’s fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared.
“It weighs on my conscience,” Brodsky told WGN Investigates in his Chicago apartment overlooking Lake Michigan. “I would never do anything to hurt a former client, but he’s in jail, he’s never getting out. So if he’s a man, he’d say, ‘I’m done, here’s what happened’ so people can graduate.”
Stacy Peterson’s family immediately feared the worst when she disappeared in 2007 after Drew’s former wife, Kathleen Savio, died under mysterious circumstances. While Stacy was never found, her disappearance prompted police and prosecutors to reinstate — and eventually convict — Drew Peterson for killing his former wife in a bathtub. Law enforcement identified Drew as the sole suspect in Stacy’s murder, but since her body was never found, they were unable to pursue a prosecution.
“I know everything about both of his wives — everything,” Brodsky said. “I feel bad because Drew still doesn’t take responsibility and Stacy is still missing. I’m thinking about maybe revealing what happened to Stacy and where she is.”
Why would a man who has practiced law for 37 years consider betraying the most sacred practice of his profession? Brodsky said it was because he felt cheated by his profession. In 2019, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Board suspended his license to practice law for two years, leaving him and his clients in limbo. One complaint said Brodsky engaged in “a pattern and practice of unprofessional conduct, including false allegations and inappropriate diatribes in briefs.” Brodsky says he regrets the behavior and attributes it to being “overzealous” in defending his clients.
Brodsky wonders why he received such a severe sanction when two powerful politicians — former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Chicago City Councilman Ed Burke — are still able to practice law and Charge fees despite being accused by federal prosecutors of using their public office to conduct business with their private law firms. Burke’s wife is a judge on the Illinois Supreme Court, which oversees the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. “Decisions, judgments and opinions are not made based on legal factors, but based on who you are [and] what you know and what financial ties you have to them,” Brodsky said.
Brodsky’s two-year suspension is over, but he has yet to apply for reinstatement of his license to practice law. “It’s almost like I don’t want to get back into a dirty deal — which I think is a dirty deal,” Brodsky said.
Stacy Peterson’s sister Cassandra Cales told WGN Investigates she was skeptical of Brodsky’s desire to bring the family to a close. “If this is actually bothering him — and if he’s not looking to win something — he should contact me or law enforcement,” she said.
Legal experts said it was almost unheard of for a lawyer to betray a client’s trust in such a brazen manner.
“I find it despicable,” said former appellate judge David Erickson of the Chicago-Kent College of Law. “Breaking that breaks the trust that this entire legal system should be based on.”
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