On Wednesday, an immigration attorney from Queens was sentenced to five years in prison for filing over 100 fraudulent asylum applications. Andreea Dumitru, 43, was convicted in November 2018 of asylum fraud, making false statements to immigration authorities, and aggravated identity theft prior to Wednesday’s sentencing.
Between 2013 and 2017, Dumitru filed over 100 I-589 asylum applications in which she knowingly made false statements about the applicants’ personal narratives of travel histories, criminal histories, alleged persecution histories. Dumitru also forged her clients signatures and falsely notarized affidavits that supported her false statements. Dumitru was disbarred and is unable to practice as an attorney.
When asked about the trial, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated,
“Andreea Dumitru, an immigration attorney, scammed the asylum program, which was designed to provide safe harbor for the world’s most vulnerable people. She will now serve time in prison for her crimes.”
According to one Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer, Dumitru took valuable time away from legitimate asylum claims,
“Dumitru used her trusted position to defraud the government, submitting fraudulent documents to claim asylum. Her actions took up time and resources while those with valid asylum claims waited in line.”
Dumitru was convicted of one count of asylum fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, one count of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison. However, any sentencing of a defendant will be determined by the presiding judge. The maximum possible sentence for Dumitru was 17 years, but she is only serving five years.
Dumitru was also ordered to pay $157,500 and will also undergo one year of supervised release.
Months before her trial began, Dumitru also pleaded guilty to helping “Taxi King” Gene Freidman evade paying over $5 million in Metropolitan Transportation Authority taxes. She was ordered to pay $25,000 in criminal restitution and to cooperate with ongoing investigations against Freidman as part of her plea deal.
Freidman’s company managed dozens of taxicab medallions owned by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former attorney. Cohen is currently serving three years in prison for failing to pay taxes on money earned from the medallions as well as making hush money payments during the 2016 presidential campaign to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.
Dumitru earned a law degree in Romania as well as a master’s in law at Cardozo Law School in New York. She has a background in in-house legal work in the corporate sector, and has been living in New York for nearly 20 years.
The sad thing about this case is that immigration hardliners like President Trump, Jeff Sessions and others will use this case as an example as to why we should curtail asylum to the U.S. The fact is that the vast majority of immigration cases, and asylum cases in particular, are valid attempts to obtain an immigration benefit. The law allows foreign nationals who fear persecution to apply for asylum and this rogue attorney should not weaken the ability of legitimate asylum seekers to make their clais.