A former Illinois judge cried in court as a judge sentenced her to a year in prison for mortgage fraud.

Jessica Arong O’Brien, who was nominated to be a judge in Illinois’ Cook County in 2012, was, on Friday, convicted of fraudulently obtaining mortgages for Chicago investment properties — and receiving more than $300,000 for herself illegally as a result.

The events for which she was convicted took place more than a decade before O’Brien became a judge and was working as a lawyer and real estate agent for a company she owned.

Earlier this year, a jury found O’Brien guilty of scamming lenders to obtain more than $1.4 million in mortgages on two South Side investment properties that she bought and sold between 2004 and 2007 through her real estate company.

“I still think you have difficulty admitting you did anything wrong,” Judge Thomas Durkin told O’Brien, according to reporters who attended the sentencing. He denied her request for probation by saying that her scheme lasted almost three years and was therefore not done impulsively.

O’Brien cried openly in court, saying that she was “an embarrassment” and that she needs Durkin to “know the truth.”

While mortgage fraud is a common crime, O’Brien’s case is unusual because she was a sitting judge at the time of her indictment. After getting indicted in 2017, O’Brien was reassigned to administrative duties and officially resigned from her post as a judge earlier this year.

A Filipino-American, O’Brien was the first Asian elected president of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and Cook County’s first Filipina judge.

Email Veronika Bondarenko

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription