Tag: criminal

Immigration scammer swindles family out of $100,000

According to Acting Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal, Bergen County Prosecutor, a man from Buford, Georgia disguised himself as a military law officer to swindle a family seeking to attain permanent resident status in the United States.  

A member of the affected family went to the Palisades Park Police in March 2016 to issue a complaint about the supposed officer.  Following an investigation by the White Collar Crimes Unit and Palisades Park Police Department, Mr. Sung H. Lee was arrested on June 14, 2016.  Mr. Lee was charged with theft by unauthorized practice of immigration law, and deception according to Prosecutor Grewal.  He was held on $75,000 bail pending a July court hearing

Prosecutor Grewal said that Sung Lee, convinced the family to give him more than $100,000.  The money was supposed to go toward helping family members with their current immigration situation.  

Mr. Lee told the family that he was a military officer working on loan to the Palisades Park Police Department and the FBI.  Prosecutor Grewal further said about the encounter that “Mr. Lee presented himself as an individual who could utilize his connections to obtain permanent resident alien status for the [family members].”  According to Prosecutor Grewal, Mr. Lee forged documents that implied he was connected with a “learning center” that could legally sponsor their applications for immigration.  Mr. Lee collected more than $100,000 from the family as a processing fee.  

Prosecutor Grewal asserted that “The fees were never returned and there were no applications processed.”

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What should an F-1 student do if they get arrested in the United States?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States and out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. International students who come to the United States on an F-1 student visa sometimes get into criminal trouble. We see this a lot with shoplifting, DUIs, little petty offenses. Obviously, more serious things can happen. We recently handled a case where a fellow had broken into his girlfriend’s apartment and assaulted her. Just like anybody else, international students are not the only ones who get into criminal trouble, but when an international student gets into criminal trouble, there are special concerns and considerations that have to be taken into account.

What am I talking about? An F-1 student visa is a non-immigrant visa. This means that there’s no long-term, immigration benefit to someone on an F-1. They may later switch to an immigrant visa, but when you’re in the United States on a non-immigrant visa, I like to tell people that you’re barely here. You are in the United States physically, but you’re here at the good graces of the United States. If the United States decides that you’re going to go, you’re going to go. There aren’t a lot of protections available to kids here in the United States on an F-1 visa who get into criminal trouble.

The first thing that you have to take into account is that you need to talk an immigration attorney. You want to make sure that when you talk to your criminal defense attorney that the two attorneys are talking back and forth because sometimes a deal that is good for a US citizen or green card holder would not be as good for the international student. A lot of times, the most serious consequences of a criminal offense are to have the international student deported. There aren’t a lot of protections available. One of the things that you have to keep in mind is that the international student could face what’s called expedited removal. Expedited removal is sort of a summary dismissal of the individual from the United States. You don’t have a lot of due process, you don’t even get the chance to go in front of a judge.

If you’re placed into expedited removal, you’re going to face serious trouble. You want to make sure that you are taking in account all the immigration consequences of any guilty pleas that the criminal defense attorney might be recommending. You’re going to get arrested and you’re going to get fingerprinted, and then you’re probably going to get a court date. You’re most likely going to be allowed out, unless the offense was particularly serious. You might have to stay in jail while the criminal charges are pending, but if you’re allowed out you need to make sure to talk to an immigration attorney. If you’re stuck in jail, you need to find a friend or a family member to contact the immigration attorney.

One of the things that we see a lot of is that the international student is ashamed or worried about talking to their family. We had a student recently who got caught shoplifting at a Wal-Mart and she was very reluctant to deal with the situation because she was going to have to face her parents. She was able to get a friend to help her pay for the legal fees and the criminal charge fees so that she can try to handle this on her own, but we don’t necessarily recommend that. If you can, you should tell your parents, you should tell your family and explain to them the situation because you don’t want to be making decisions on your own that could have long-term consequences for you from an immigration perspective.

When you get arrested, don’t say anything to the police. Tell them that you want to talk to a lawyer. Tell them that you’re not going to give them a statement. Don’t give them any kind of additional evidence to use against you. They will use it against you. Once your criminal proceedings are over, if you’ve taken a guilty plea, you could be placed under removal proceedings, deportation proceedings, even if your criminal defense attorney told you that you weren’t going to. If you have questions about what to do if you get arrested or what to do if you’re facing criminal charges as an F-1 international student, make sure to talk to an immigration attorney. We handle these cases here at our office pretty frequently, but where ever you are in the United States, you do not want to do this alone. You should not rely solely on the advice of your criminal defense attorney. A good criminal defense attorney is going to tell you to consult with an immigration attorney. We’re always very happy when international students come to us from criminal defense attorneys because that tells us that the criminal defense attorney know what’s going on.

It’s so complicated to figure out what’s going to happen to the immigrant based on the criminal charges. Every time we get a case like this, we start at the beginning and we look at all possible defenses and all available relief. We encourage you to contact an immigration attorney if you’re facing a criminal situation like this. Don’t be ashamed, don’t be worried, it’s just a mistake, it’s not your whole life. It doesn’t define you. You really need to make sure that you do what you can to protect yourself from an immigration standpoint so hopefully you can continue going to school, complete your studies, and go on about your life. If you have any questions, give us a call. 314-961-8200. You can email us at jim@hackinglawpractice.com. Thanks.

ICE prosecutor faces criminal charges for allegedly forging deportation documents

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A former prosecutor for Immigration and Customs Enforcement is accused of forging court documents in a case that involved the deportation of a Mexican construction worker. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating whether criminal charges can be brought upon the former prosecutor. A 2014 civil-rights lawsuit by Ignacio Lanuza has shed light on the investigation of former ICE prosecutor, Jonat Love. Love is accused of misconduct in Lanuza’s case in Immigration Court. ICE deals with immigration and refugee issues and is monitored by the Department of Justice.

Attorneys from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, who represent Lanuza, said “This case presents the issue of whether a federal official may … be held accountable for indisputably corrupt actions taken in order to strip a noncitizen of his right to a full and fair hearing in immigration proceedings.”

The suit argues that, “[Lanuza] suffered through almost five years of unwarranted, expensive, and traumatic immigration proceedings as a result of a crude forgery on the part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” Lanuza claims that he was deprived of due process by Love. Lanuza is requesting $500,000 in damages for Love’s alleged misconduct.

Before the lawsuit against Love was opened, Lanuza was supposed to be deported to Mexico. As a result of the allegations and the pending lawsuit, Lanuza was given legal permanent resident status in the U.S. last year. Marsha Pechman, a U.S. District Judge, has stayed all proceedings in Lanuza’s civil lawsuit until a verdict is made on Love’s case involving federal prosecutors.

Lanuza was first brought to the attention of ICE following an arrest made while he was at a party for holding a handgun. The handgun was found to be stolen and he was eventually arrested for the possession of a stolen firearm and he was booked in the King County Jail. At the jail, he allegedly admitted to being in the country illegally. He pleaded guilty to a charge of illegally carrying a firearm with the intent to intimidate.

Lanuza claimed that he could not remember signing an I-826 form that Love had presented in trial. It was later found that Love had forged Lanuza’s signature on the form.

They’ve cited, “the seriousness and particularity of the allegations provided evidence indicating that the [I-826] submitted by the [Department of Homeland Security] may not be a complete and accurate document anachronisms and other hallmarks which may suggest document tampering.”

Pechman ruled that Love cannot be held civilly responsible for his actions. As a result Lanuza has filed an appeal with the 9th circuit.

USCIS Immigration Officer Allegedly Sought Sex from Immigrant

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Laura Maldonado, an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador, brought her 10-year-old son to an immigration office in Tampa, FL in 2006.  Their legal status was unclear ever since her American husband of 15 months died in 2002.   

At the Tampa USCIS office, Maldonado met an immigration officer, Jeffrey Bohn, who federal officers claim ended up visiting her for sex.  

Bohn is on trial in U.S. District Court for being accused of lying about his relationship with Maldonado.  Mr. Bohn’s alleged lying took place while he was applying to keep his national security clearance active.  

In a translation of Maldonado’s courtroom testimony she said, “He told me he had seen me and he had fallen in love at first sight.  He was in love with me and wanted to marry me. He started kissing me …”

Sara Sweeney, a federal prosecutor, said that U.S. Customs Citizenship and Immigration Services is staunchly against its employees having close contact with foreign nationals because of the possibility that biases would arise.  

16 years ago, Maldonado illegally crossed the U.S. border with Mexico.  According to marriage records from Hillsborough, FL, she married her late husband in April 2001.  

On September 11, 2006, Bohn interviewed Maldonado. He stamped her son’s passport for another year and learned that she had illegally crossed the border.  

Following the interview, Bohn called her cell phone.  They met at a fast food restaurant and he soon came to her home.  

Maldonado went on to say, “I never asked him to stop because I was afraid that he would take reprisals and he had my paperwork. I was afraid for myself and my son.”

Dionja Dyer, Bohn’s federal defender, claims that Maldonado created the allegations as a way to stay in the United States.  

The prosecutor claims that there is DNA evidence linking the two.

When selecting the jury, jurors were asked how they felt about extramarital sex because Bohn was married at the time.  The jury is made up of nine women and five men.