Catalina, a Washington, DC resident who is illiterate in Spanish and English, paid a non-attorney a total of approximately $7,000 for what she thought was immigration legal work. In the end, the work performed was frivolous and provided her no actual immigration legal benefit. The non-attorney was the executive director of a business that has been in the DC metro area for over 25 years in which she presents herself to clients as an attorney. When Catalina first came to one of our grantees, she believed the non-attorney was a licensed immigration attorney.
Our grantee helped Catalina request her complete immigration file back from the non-attorney and filed a Freedom of Information Act request on her behalf to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Virginia Employment Commission to assess her case. After reviewing the files, our grantee prepared an Unauthorized Practice of Law complaint with a five-page summary of the legal mistakes performed in her case, a detailed timeline of the business’s actions, and organized the evidence in her case. Our grantee assisted three other victims of the same business over the past two years. Nearly two years after the first complaint, the Virginia Bar referred the four victims’ matters for criminal prosecution.
On October 20, 2015, the non-attorney was arrested and charged with multiple misdemeanors and felonies. Shortly after the arraignment, our grantee received ten additional referrals of other victims of this non-attorney.