Lawyer reprimanded for revealing identity of confidential informant

Court says former magistrate ‘put the C.I.’s life at risk’

By: - November 8, 2023 2:50 pm

A former court magistrate has been given a public reprimand for revealing the identity of a confidential informant and placing the individual’s life at risk. (Photo by Getty Images)

A former court magistrate has been given a public reprimand for revealing the identity of a confidential informant and placing the individual’s life at risk.

Iowa City attorney Theresa J. Seeberger, who once served as a judicial magistrate presiding over cases in Cedar County, has been publicly reprimanded by the Iowa Supreme Court’s Attorney Disciplinary Board. She said Wednesday she has now relinquished her Iowa law license.

The board alleges that in January 2022, Seeberger was representing clients in two separate criminal matters: a woman identified in board records as “A.H.,” who was charged with possession of methamphetamine, and A.H.’s male paramour, identified as “S.N.,” who was charged with selling methamphetamine to a confidential informant for law enforcement.

Three days after a prosecutor in S.N.’s case allowed Seeberger – but not S.N. — to hear a recording of the alleged drug sales, A.H. called her boyfriend, S.N., from jail and reported that she had talked to Seeberger who told her of the recording. A.H. then told S.N. the name of the confidential informant in his case, adding that Seeberger had made her “swear to secrecy not to tell anybody.”

The phone call from the jail was recorded and was provided to a prosecutor who then filed a complaint with the Attorney Disciplinary Board. According to the board, A.H. told S.N. during the call, “Theresa came to see me … I know who it is. She told me … It’s (informant’s name) … She had to know I was going to tell you.”

Seeberger told the board she had permission from both clients to discuss their cases, but that she didn’t wittingly identify the C.I., or confidential informant, in S.N.’s case. She alleged that in her meeting with A.H., she told the woman she had heard the recording of the drug sales and that she described for A.H. the “distinctive aspects” of the informant’s voice, cautioning her “half jokingly and half seriously” that if a man with a distinctive voice tried to buy meth from her, she shouldn’t agree to the sale.

Seeberger told the board that A.H. then correctly named the informant, telling her, “That’s my cousin.” In her statement to the board, Seeberger stated, “I should have lied and said she was wrong, but instead I said words to the effect of, ‘I don’t know that, and you don’t know that.’” She acknowledged she did ask A.H. to tell no one about the matter and that A.H. relayed the information to S.N. anyway.

In reviewing the matter, the board concluded Seeberger had “put the C.I.’s life at risk” since S.N. was not incarcerated and “could have easily harassed, intimidated or physically harmed” the informant.

“You could have simply advised your client not to buy drugs from anyone,” the board stated. “Instead, you gave enough information about the C.I. for your client to figure out who it was. You then attempted to forbid A.H. to tell anybody. Disclosing the name of a C.I. can have dire, even dangerous, consequences.”

According to board records, Seeberger was privately admonished in 2011 for speaking to a group of jurors who had found one of her clients guilty. In 2015, she was privately admonished for sending a Facebook message directly to an individual she knew was represented by legal counsel.

Seeberger served on Iowa City’s Community Police Review Board from July 2021 through January 2022.

Other attorney discipline cases

Other Iowa attorneys who have been sanctioned in recent weeks include:

Raymond Mansolillo, an Iowa-licensed attorney who also practices in New York, Colorado, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In January 1999, Mansolillo left a job with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and filed an occupational-disease claim stemming from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression that he said was tied to his role in DEA operations in South America. In 2002, he began collecting wage-loss compensation under the Federal Employees Compensation Act.

In 2005, Mansolillo began practicing law in Massachusetts. He allegedly continued to collect wage-loss benefits by knowingly misrepresenting his earnings in periodic statements filed with the government. In all, he allegedly collected $351,057 he wasn’t entitled to receive. Mansolillo’s license to practice in Massachusetts was then suspended for two months.

In response to a proposed similar suspension of his Iowa license, Mansolillo argued the payments he collected were part of a “personal/family financial matter” that resulted in a finding that he was at fault – adding that this was civil or administrative finding and that “there was no fraud” committed. He noted that he had already reimbursed the government a quarter of a million dollars. The Iowa Supreme Court imposed a 60-day suspension of Mansolillo’s license, effective Oct. 6, 2023.

Adam Kehrwald, an Iowa-licensed attorney who also practices in South Dakota. In June 2021, Kehrwald’s Iowa license was suspended due to a disability, then reinstated in December 2022. In July 2023, the Attorney Disciplinary Board initiated disciplinary proceedings, saying he had apparently “experienced a relapse in his alcoholism” and was incarcerated in South Dakota on unspecified criminal charges.

The court recently suspended Kehrwald’s Iowa license for a second time, noting that he can apply for reinstatement after showing he is no longer disabled and is qualified to practice law.

Jay Rosenberg, an Iowa-licensed attorney who is also authorized to practice law in 13 other states. In Virginia, he was accused last year of providing legal services without a license, with his practice focused on high-volume, low-cost services related to real estate transactions.

Rosenberg had allegedly subcontracted the task of preparing thousands of real estate deeds to an outfit based in India. The deeds allegedly contained substantive errors that were not reviewed or corrected by a Virginia-licensed attorney before being delivered to clients. As a result of the allegations, Rosenberg consented to an order barring him from admission to the Virginia bar.

The Iowa Supreme Court has revoked Rosenberg’s Iowa law license.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.