CHICAGO (WGN) – “Maybe it’s time.”
Those three words hint that answers in one of the nation’s most infamous unsolved cases could soon be solved. Attorney Joel Brodsky represented suburban Chicago cop Drew Peterson more than a decade ago when the officer’s fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared.
“It’s something that weighs on my conscience,” Brodsky told WGN Investigates in his Chicago apartment overlooking Lake Michigan. “I would never do anything that would hurt a former client, but he’s in prison, he’s never getting out. So, if he’s a man, he’d say ‘I’m done, here’s what happened,’ so people can have closure.”
Stacy Peterson’s family immediately feared the worst when she vanished in 2007 because Drew’s previous wife, Kathleen Savio, died under mysterious circumstances. While Stacy has never been found, her disappearance prompted police and prosecutors to reopen – and eventually convict – Drew Peterson of killing his previous wife in a bathtub. Law enforcement labeled Drew as the only suspect in what they suspect was Stacy’s murder, but since her body was never found, they’ve been unable to prosecute.
“I know everything about both of his wives – everything,” Brodsky said. “I feel bad about Drew still not taking responsibility and Stacy still being missing. I’m thinking about maybe revealing what happened to Stacy and where she is.”
Why would a man who practiced law for 37 years consider betraying his profession’s most sacred practice? Brodsky said it’s because he feels the profession betrayed him. In 2019, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission suspended his law license for two years, leaving him and his clients in limbo. A complaint said Brodsky engaged in “a pattern and practice of unprofessional behavior including false allegations and inappropriate diatribes in pleadings.” Brodsky says he regrets the conduct and attributes it to being “overzealous” in defending his clients.
Brodsky questions why he received such a severe sanction when two powerful politicians – former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Chicago Alderman Ed Burke – still have the ability to practice law and collect fees despite being charged by federal prosecutors with using their public office to steer business to their private law practices. Burke’s wife is a justice on the Illinois Supreme Court, which oversees the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. “Decisions are made, rulings, opinions are made based not on factors of law but based on who you [and] what you know and what your financial connections to them are,” Brodsky said.
Brodsky’s two-year suspension is over but he has yet to apply to have his law license reinstated. “It’s almost like I don’t want to get back into a dirty business – what I think is a dirty business,” Brodsky said.
Stacy Peterson’s sister, Cassandra Cales, told WGN Investigates she’s skeptical of Brodsky’s desire to help bring closure to the family. “If that actually weighed on him – and if he’s not out to gain something – he should reach out to me or law enforcement,” she said.
Legal experts said it’s almost unheard of for a lawyer to betray their client’s trust in such a bold fashion.
“I think it’s despicable,” said former appellate judge David Erickson of Chicago-Kent College of Law. “To break that breaks the very trust that this entire system of law should be based upon.”