It’s 128 days in custody and counting for 81-year-old former Chicago Board of Trade chairman Patrick Arbor after a Cook County judge on Wednesday rejected his lawyer’s latest impassioned plea for his release.
Howard Rosenfeld, Arbor’s divorce lawyer, argued that Circuit Judge Myron Mackoff has crossed a line by keeping his client in jail so long on contempt of court citations stemming from his failure to satisfy a divorce judgment.
Arbor, who will turn 82 on Oct. 11, has cancer and a heart condition and needs medical treatment he can’t get at the jail, Rosenfeld said. The lawyer accused Mackoff of “hoping the man is here indefinitely,” possibly until he dies.
“He hasn’t committed a crime. He owes money,” Rosenfeld said, arguing Arbor “has no ability to pay.”
In ruling that Arbor must remain in jail, Mackoff showed continued skepticism that Arbor has made an honest effort to access his money and said: “Nobody is above the law.”
Arbor was brought to court in his khaki jail uniform with “DOC” on the back over a long-sleeve white undershirt. His hair was mussed, and he did not appear to have shaved.
Mackoff ordered his handcuffs removed before he entered the courtroom. During a break, Arbor was allowed to chat briefly with his son and received a hug from his daughter.
One exchange between Rosenfeld and Mackoff became so heated that the judge counted down out loud from five while waiting for Rosenfeld to stop interrupting him.
Arbor moved his assets overseas and left the country in 2013 amid a contentious divorce fight with his then-wife, Antoinette Vigilante.
He was arrested in Boston on May 23 while visiting family members and extradited to Cook County.
Rosenfeld contends it is impossible for Arbor to come up with the money needed to pay his $1 million bail or satisfy the $18 million divorce judgment due Vigilante.
He maintains Arbor lost most of his fortune in recent years, including $14 million that was deposited in a Portuguese bank that went bankrupt and $2 million in a Ukrainian investment that became uncollectable.
He argues Arbor’s remaining funds — totalling about $5 million — are held in Swiss bank accounts by trusts that he does not control.
Stan Sneeringer, a lawyer for Vigilante, argued Arbor should not be allowed to hide behind his trusts.
“Self-created impossibility is not a defense. If it was, every rich guy would do it,” Sneeringer said.
“We don’t want to see this continue, but Mr. Arbor has got to get serious,” he added.