Published February 21, 2018
In my 25+ years as an immigration lawyer, I have seen many versions of both the bad lawyer and the fake lawyer. Each is poisonous in that they erode trust in the legal profession and in humankind in general – not to mention the brazen acts of robbery they commit as they carry out their scams. In today’s political environment, where those vulnerable to deportation, or just having to access our immigration system, are more fearful than ever, the damage the bad or fake lawyer can do is immense. Below are two recent examples, with one purporting to be a private attorney for hire, and the other, an actual attorney in the employ of U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but who went rogue.
The Fake Lawyer
When a person presents himself as an attorney on law office letterhead or on their law office door, and makes use of an actual attorney license, you would think that person is an actual lawyer, right? Unfortunately, there are sick individuals in the world who go out of their way to pretend to be a lawyer and take legal fees as if they are a lawyer, but who actually have no law license or credentials whatsoever. In the case of Leaford George Cameron, a 65 year old resident of Burlington, New Jersey, we have a person who purported to have a license and law practice and took on all kinds of clients, including those in need of immigration law assistance. Mr. Cameron even appeared in court to represent individuals attempting to fight off deportation. He represented clients residing in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, and from the countries of Jamaica and India.
Mr. Cameron’s scheme eventually unraveled, as many of his customers discovered they received botched legal services, or no legal services at all. When clients would complain or not pay their bill, Cameron issued threats, including to have undocumented clients deported. As a result of his scheme, many of his clients suffered significant financial loss and some were even deported.
In the past week, a federal jury in Philadelphia returned a guilty verdict against Mr. Cameron on multiple counts of fraud and perjury, and he likely will be sentenced to a period of years in a federal penitentiary.
The Bad Lawyer
Raphael Sanchez held a supervisory attorney position with the Seattle office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division. In that position, Mr. Sanchez was trusted with overseeing the prosecution of thousands of deportable immigrants. However, as documented in a recent indictment and plea deal, Mr. Sanchez carried out an extensive scheme over a 4 year period – between October 2013 and October 2014 – to steal for financial gain, the identities of 7 immigrants facing deportation. By obtaining personal bank and other information belonging to individuals being prosecuted by ICE, Sanchez engaged in fraudulent transactions to steal approximately $190.000 from accounts held by these immigrant victims at various financial institutions including American Express, Bank of American, Captial One, Citibank and J.P. Morgan Chase. As part of his guilty plea, it is expected Mr. Sanchez will serve a period of imprisonment and pay restitution and a substantial fine.
Unfortunately, for every bad or fake lawyer who gets caught, there are perhaps 5 or more that do not. In the end, the value of finding an honest, competent and bona fide attorney to represent you in an immigration case, or any legal matter, cannot be overstated.
PUBLISHED February 21, 2018– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2018, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois