Attorney for parents of Highland Park shooting suspect stands down citing ‘conflict of interest’

Steve Greenberg quit as attorney on Thursday as questions mount over whether the parents will face charges

Rachel Sharp
Friday 08 July 2022 19:19 BST
Highland Park suspect's mother in confrontation with SWAT team

The attorney representing the parents of Highland Park shooting suspect Robert Crimo has stood down just days after taking them as clients, citing an unspecified “conflict of interest”.

Steve Greenberg, who has previously represented high-profile clients including convicted sex offender R. Kelly, tweeted on Thursday night that he was no longer representing Mr Crimo’s father Bob Crimo and mother Denise Pesina.

“In light of a conflict that has arisen I am no longer representing the Crimo’s,” he tweeted.

“I remain hopeful that at some point this terrible tragedy will result in meaningful change.”

George Gomez was named as the parents’ new attorney.

Mr Greenberg did not divulge what the conflict of interest was, coming two days after he announced on Tuesday that he had taken on the parents as clients.

Mr Crimo’s own attorney Tom Durkin also stood down on Wednesday, also citing a conflict of interest, leaving the accused mass shooter to be assigned a public defender.

The Crimo’s family home in Highwood – which had been handed down the family for years – is on the brink of foreclosure as Bob Crimo has allegedly missed $200,000 in mortgage payments on the property, according to public records.

Questions are growing around whether Mr Crimo’s parents could face charges in connection to the mass shooting at the July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

Bob Crimo – who had a failed run for mayor of Highland Park – sponsored his son to get his state firearm permit in 2019 – despite the then-19-year-old threatening to kill his family members just three months earlier.

Following the attack on 4 July, Mr Crimo returned to his mother’s home and borrowed her car, police said.

He drove all the way to Madison, Wisconsin, where he considered another attack before returning to Illinois and was arrested.

Attorney Steve Greenberg said ‘this isn’t the parent’s fault’ in an interview with ABC7
Attorney Steve Greenberg said ‘this isn’t the parent’s fault’ in an interview with ABC7 (ABC 7/video screengrab)

Newly-released police reports have also revealed a string of domestic disputes in the home the alleged gunman grew up in with his parents.

Before taking on the parents as clients, Mr Greenberg had tweeted his condemnation of the massacre.

“This is my hometown where I grew up and raised my kids. WTF is wrong with people. No one needs these high powered weapons!!!!! F @tedcruz Mitch McConnell and all like them,” he wrote on Monday.

Since being hired by the parents, the attorney defended his clients over the massacre and placed the blame on the “system” that enabled the 21-year-old alleged gunman to buy assault rifles.

“The bigger question, that must be answered and resolved, is why are military grade assault weapons available for anyone to purchase?” he tweeted on Wednesday.

It emerged this week that police were called to two separate incidents in 2019 involving Mr Crimo including one where he allegedly threatened to kill his family members.

On 5 September 2019, officers responded to a wellbeing check at the suspect’s home after Mr Crimo had “stated that he was going to kill everyone”.

The victim, a family member who was a minor at the time, said that they were “afraid to go home due to the nature of this threat” and because there was “a collection of knives in [Mr Crimo’s] bedroom”.

The then-18-year-old admitted to officers that he was “depressed” and had a history of drug use, according to a police report released by Illinois State Police.

Denise Pesina, the mother of Highland Park shooting suspect Robert Crimo
Denise Pesina, the mother of Highland Park shooting suspect Robert Crimo (Supplied)

Police confiscated a trove of knives from his bedroom at the time including a 24-inch Samurai type sword, a 12-inch dagger and a tin lunch box with 16 hand knives – which were then collected just four hours later by Mr Crimo’s father after he claimed the knives were his and he had been storing them in his son’s room for “safekeeping”.

The incident in September also came five months after police were called to the home for the first time that April when Mr Crimo allegedly tried to kill himself with a machete.

But, despite the warning signs about Mr Crimo’s disturbing behaviour, his father sponsored his son’s application for an FOID card that December.

In January 2020 – despite being sent the police reports about the incidents – the ISP approved the FOID application.

Mr Crimo then legally bought five firearms over the next two years – including the high-powered Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle he allegedly used in Monday’s attack.

In a press release earlier this week, the ISP that “there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger and deny the FOID application”.

Mr Greenberg initially claimed that Bob Crimo was not aware of the September 2019 threats when he sponsored his son’s FOID card application that December.

The police report tells a different story, showing officers spoke to the father during the encounter and that he then collected the trove of knives from the police four hours after they were confiscated.

Robert ‘Bobby’ Crimo Jr is the father of the alleged Highland Park shooter
Robert ‘Bobby’ Crimo Jr is the father of the alleged Highland Park shooter (Facebook/Robert ‘Bobby’ Crimo Jr)

Bob Crimo, who made a failed run for mayor against current Mayor Nancy Rotering, then appeared to admit his awareness of the threats in an interview with the New York Post saying that the threats were “taken out of context” and were “just a child’s outburst”.

He also denied any potential culpability for this week’s massacre saying he had “zero” involvement saying – while he signed his son’s initial FOID application – his son purchased all the guns himself.

While Ms Pesina has not spoken to the media, she was caught on video confronting a SWAT team on Monday as law enforcement agencies hunted for her son.

Newly-released police records show Ms Pesina was convicted of child endangerment in 2002 of abandoning Mr Crimo in a hot car when he was just two years old.

Mr Crimo has so far been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder with more charges expected in the coming days.

If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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