AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 09080763 (posted Aug. 7, 2009)
DISTRICT ATTORNEY - NEW YORK COUNTY
August 6, 2009
CONTACT: Alicia Maxey Greene
Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau announced today the indictment and arrest of two individuals for illegally practicing law and operating a fraudulent immigration consultation business in Chinatown. The indictment marks the first time that New York City's Immigration Assistance Services Law has been criminally enforced.
The defendants, TONG HUI YOU (a/ka KEVIN YOU), 50, and XIAO LING CHEN (a/k/a LINDA CHEN), 36, have been indicted on charges of grand larceny, scheme to defraud, practicing or appearing as an attorney-at-law without being admitted and registered, and violating the Immigration Assistance Services Law. The crimes charged in the indictment occurred between April 2008 and May 2009.
The investigation leading to today's indictment and arrest revealed that CHEN is the president and secretary of Da Bure Immigration Consultation, Inc., where YOU claims to be a lawyer. Da Bure Immigration Consultation, Inc. was located at 9 East Broadway and is now located at 15 Division Street. This business purports to offer assistance with applications and petitions pending with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
The investigation further revealed that a victim sought help from Da Bure on behalf of family members, both in China and in the U.S., for whom the victim had petitions pending before USCIS. The victim chose Da Bure after seeing a sign on the entrance of the building that read "Da Bure Express Immigration." Once inside, the victim met YOU, who stated in substance that he was a lawyer specializing in express immigration. CHEN also told the victim that YOU was a lawyer. YOU represented to the victim that he had special connections in the U.S. immigration agency and in the U.S. Embassy in China. YOU guaranteed that the victim's petitions for his family members in China would be approved within six months and that his family members in the U.S. would get green cards through a particular program even though they had not applied and did not qualify. The victim paid YOU $4,840, which included YOU's fee for his services and the money supposedly to be paid to USCIS to expedite the petitions and obtain green cards.
Despite the provisions of the Immigration Assistance Services Law, the victim did not receive a written contract for the services for which he paid. He did not see any signs stating that the service providers at Da Bure were not lawyers, or that he could cancel the contract within three business days. Instead, YOU gave the victim a business card bearing a depiction of the scales of justice. The card also bears, in English, the name "Da Bure Immigration Consultation, Inc.," and, in Chinese, the name "Da Bure Express Immigration."
After the victim paid the $4,840, YOU told him to go home and wait for a receipt from USCIS. No money was ever submitted to USCIS, and so of course the victim never received a receipt. The victim went to Da Bure several times to speak to CHEN and YOU, who assured the victim that he would get the receipt and that he simply needed to wait. Finally, the victim realized that he had been scammed and demanded his money back. YOU refused to return the money. Shortly thereafter, an Association in Chinatown referred the victim to the District Attorney's Immigrant Affairs Program.
An immigration officer assigned to the Fraud Detection & National Security Unit of USCIS has confirmed that the consideration of the victim's petitions for his family members could not have been expedited by paying USCIS and that in fact the victim's petitions did not even require a fee.
Neither YOU nor CHEN is a licensed attorney. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) confirmed that Da Bure Immigration Consultation, Inc. is not known to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and that YOU and CHEN are not accredited representatives authorized to represent clients before USCIS or the immigration courts.
The defendants have each been indicted on one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony punishable by up to 2 to 7 years in prison; one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony punishable by up to 1 to 4 years in prison; two counts of Practicing or Appearing As An Attorney-At-Law Without Being Admitted and Registered, a Judiciary Law misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail; and 7 counts of violating the Immigration Assistance Services Law, codified as a part of New York City's Administrative Code, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail. YOU was additionally charged with another count of violating the Immigration Assistance Services Law.
The investigation is continuing. Both defendants are scheduled to be arraigned today in State Supreme Court, Part 1. Mr. Morgenthau thanked the Office of Fraud Detection & National Security, New York District, within USCIS, and Heidi Brissette, Associate General Counsel and Fraud and Abuse Prevention Coordinator of the Office of the General Counsel, Executive Office for Immigration Review within the U.S. Department of Justice.
Assistant District Attorney Daysi Mejia, Attorney-in-Charge of the District Attorney's Office Immigrant Affairs Program, is handling the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Thomas Wornom, Chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau. Detective Raymond Winslow of the District Attorney's Detective Squad assisted in the investigation under the supervision of Sgt. Edward England and Captain Ronald Haas.
TONG HUI YOU (a/ka KEVIN YOU), 8/13/1958
XIAO LING CHEN (a/k/a LINDA CHEN), 8/31/1972
91 Elizabeth Street
New York, New York
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