JOLIET, IL —Neil Patel, one of the Will County Courthouse’s better known private criminal defense lawyers, has left Bretz, Flynn & Associates and opened his own law firm. The Law Office of Neil Patel began this month on the seventh floor of 58 North Chicago St. in Joliet’s downtown.
For the past several years, Patel worked in the same professional office building, but on the second floor, where he worked side by side with attorney Chuck Bretz.
Patel told Joliet Patch he and Bretz remain good friends and professional colleagues. Patel said the decision to open his own law firm was done for personal and professional reasons.
“The split between Chuck and I will allow us to offer certain services we were not able to before,” Patel explained. “Working with Chuck has been a great learning experience, and he’s been a great mentor.”
Patel has been a lawyer in Joliet for the past 15 years. He worked for five years as a criminal prosecutor for the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office before going into private practice as a criminal defense lawyer.
He said the Law Office of Neil Patel will still focus on criminal defense cases including traffic offenses, DUI and felonies. Additionally, Patel’s new law firm will handle family law and personal injury cases, he said.
The phone number to reach Patel’s new law firm is 815-717-4015.
There are several pending criminal cases at the Will County Courthouse in which Bretz and Patel appeared in court together representing a client that hired Bretz, Flynn & Associates.
“Chuck and I are going to be working together on some cases,” Patel said. “I don’t think for the Bretz, Flynn & Associates clients they are going to see too big of a difference.”
Patel and Bretz handled several high-profile Joliet area murder cases in recent years. They were the defense lawyers for convicted killer Bethany McKee, who was one of four co-defendants convicted in the notorious Nightmare on Hickory Street Murder case. McKee and Alisa Massaro, both 20, along with Joshua Miner, 26, and Adam Landerman, 21, all were arrested and charged with the January 2013 murders of 22-year-olds Terrance Rankins and Eric Glover.
The four killed Rankins and Glover after Massaro and McKee lured them to Massaro’s Hickory Street nightmare house, according to police reports obtained exclusively by Patch.
In August 2019, Patel and Bretz were on the winning side when a Will County jury found their client Jesus Zambrano not guilty of first-degree murder in the May 22, 2009, west side shooting death of Robert Gooch, 36. The Joliet homicide victim was shot in the head inside a third-floor apartment at the Larkin Village apartment complex during an apparent lover’s triangle.
Back in 2013, a different Will County jury found Zambrano guilty of murder, and he drew a 45-year prison term at the time. Then in 2016, the Illinois Court of Appeals overturned Zambrano’s conviction and remanded his murder case back to Will County Circuit Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak for a retrial.
“This victory is very personal because we’ve grown very close to the Zambrano family,” Patel told Joliet Patch in 2019 after the jury found Zambrano not guilty of murder. “It’s a bit of a redemption.”
These days, Patel said he continues to serve as the lawyer for Sheri Gordon, the mother of Semaj Crosby. The little girl from Joliet Township was found dead in April of 2017 underneath a couch in her family’s house in the Preston Heights area.
Nobody has ever been arrested in connection with Semaj’s homicide.