Prenda’s John Steele has been disbarred

John Steele

It is rather a minor news because it was totally expected. Also, this development is pale in comparison to the criminal action against John Steele and Paul Hansmeier — the masterminds behind one of the most egregious abuses of the copyright law. Nonetheless, since this blog published more than 150 stories about Prenda (likely helping to accelerate the inevitable), to me it is a milestone worth marking.

According to Cook County Record,

On May 19, the Illinois Supreme Court announced its action against Steele, as well as six others who were disbarred by the court in attorney disciplinary orders handed down May 18. The court also suspended nine other attorneys and censured or reprimanded six more.


In announcing Steele’s disbarment, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission – the state body which oversees attorney discipline matters in Illinois – said Steele, who had been licensed in Illinois since 2007, was disbarred “on consent.”

The disbarment took place exactly 21 month after the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois filed its ethics complaint against Steele.

When Prenda went down in flames, both John Steele and his partner in crime Paul Hansmeier¹ (whose license was eventually suspended on 9/12/2016) switched to ADA trolling. After soliciting several folks with disabilities to be plaintiffs, John Steele (with help from his buddy, a fugitive Mark Lutz) attempted to extort 29 Northern Illinois businesses. Note that 21 of the lawsuits were initiated after the IARDC complaint. All those cases are closed now for various reasons, and I don’t know exactly how many victims paid up.


A mandatory cliché: the wheels of justice are slow, but they do grind. The next cog to move is named “Sentencing.”

(This is not the original PDF, I printed it from a not directly linkable IARDC page: search for “Steele, John,” find “John Lawrence Steele,” then click on “Rules and Decisions”)



¹ Frustratingly, the license suspension didn’t curb the ADA shakedown in Minnesota: Paul Hansmeier’s wife Padraigin Browne is “in charge” of the scam today.

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10 responses to ‘Prenda’s John Steele has been disbarred

  1. What I don’t like about this is it is by “consent” as if Steele was doing the Illinois State Bar a favor by consenting to be dis-barred. Steele should have been Disbarred long long before he consented to it, and that is a major failure of the Illinois State Bar in policing their own members.

    The other thing that makes me wonder is why has the terms of Steele’s disbarment not been publicized? We have no idea how long Steele has been disbarred for and when and if he can apply to be reinstated or if he has no hope in hell of ever getting his License to practice back.

    I am more than a little suspicious of the Illinois State Bar leaving out these details, When Hans was disbarred in MN they announced the term of Hans suspension and when he could apply to be re-instated, but with Steele these details are absent from publication or the announcement.

  2. How can I find out when sentencing occurs for his admission of guilt? It might happen in MN and I am close. I would be interested in sitting in on the hearing if it is public.

  3. Coincidental that this post would come today and I had just looked up the status of the criminal case yesterday. The court gave Steele the okay to move to Arizona, and there has been no sentencing date set, at least as of now.

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