Through our years of as prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys, we at Saland Law PC have seen the charges before…Scheme to Defraud…Grand Larceny…but usually not in the context I am about to share with you. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be a shock to anyone, but attorneys…that’s right, criminal defense attorneys, divorce attorneys and real estate attorneys, can be the biggest perpetrators of fraud. Because of this, it is imperative that you do your homework before handing someone not merely a retainer fee, but the reigns to your life. Don’t learn this lesson after it is too late.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office just announced an arrest and indictment today of a 59 year old man who had been pretending to be an immigration lawyer. The defendant, Victor Espinal, has been indicted on one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, one count of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and two counts of Practicing or Appearing as an Attorney-at-Law Without Being Admitted and Registered. If convicted, Mr. Espinal faces up to seven years in state prison on the most serious offense of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and one year in jail on the least serious offense of Appearing as an Attorney-at-Law Without Being Admitted and Registered.
According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Press release Mr. Espinal allegedly pretended to be an immigration attorney and accepted multiple thousands of dollars in fees for multiple clients during a five year period. The fees were to assist those clients in obtaining a green cards, visas and work permits. Instead of helping these individuals with their immigration issues, Mr.Espinal allegedly pocketed the money in this scheme and helped himself to the finer things in life.
As I sometimes note, there is always a lesson to be learned in every case. As I stated above, before retaining an attorney make sure that attorney is registered and has experience in your particular area of need. Get agreements in writing and maintain receipts. The person who has the most at stake in your case is you. Your attorney should be willing and able to stand with and next to you throughout your legal battle. Hopefully, Mr. Espinal, an any accused individual, should now recognize the importance of retaining REAL counsel. After all, only experienced and skilled criminal defense attorneys have the ability and knowledge to represent him and see that his rights are preserved.