A.G. Schneiderman Announces Felony Conviction Of Phony Lawyer Who Scammed New York Immigrants
Fake Lawyer Michael Schorr Pleads Guilty To Felony Charges For Defrauding Unsuspecting Clients And Judges; Now Faces Up To 7 Years In Prison
Schneiderman: My Office Will Seek Justice For The Victims of Those Who Defraud The Public
NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the felony conviction of fraudster Michael Schorr, who conned judges and stole from unsuspecting clients by passing himself off as a licensed attorney. Schorr pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class “D” felony), before Judge Charles H. Soloman in New York County Supreme Court. For four years, Schorr held himself out as a lawyer in New York, and defrauded more than seven victims out of more than $15,000 in legal fees. Schorr faces up to 7 years in prison when he is sentenced February 25.
“Phony lawyers preying on our unsuspecting immigrants - people who are in desperate need of sound legal advice – and stealing their hard earned money are criminals,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “By repeatedly making false representations to judges about his status and soliciting clients into believing he could help them at their immigration proceedings, this man scammed his clients and jeopardized their livelihoods at a particularly vulnerable point. My office will seek justice for the victims of those who defraud the public.”
The Attorney General’s 35-count indictment, filed last May, charged Schorr with felony grand larceny and scheme to defraud, among other charges. Schorr, of Valley Cottage in Rockland County, misrepresented himself as an attorney to clients and potential clients and appeared in United States Immigration Courts at 201 Varick Street and 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan. He filed false and forged documents with the courts stating that he was a licensed attorney in good standing in New York. Schorr, 72, used two attorney registration numbers belonging to other attorneys with valid licenses and made up a third registration number.
The defendant solicited and represented many victims in court who believed that he was an attorney and trusted him to provide legal advice in matters of the utmost importance to them. According to the indictment and statements made by the prosecutor at his arraignment, Schorr not only stole his victims’ money but also gave them poor legal advice. The result was that many cases needing to be re-opened. Schorr's alleged victims include many from Brazil and at least one Israeli and one Mexican citizen.
Schorr appeared on multiple occasions in the federal immigration and other courts pretending to be a lawyer and representing his “clients” in removal and criminal proceedings. In one instance, when a federal judge told Shorr there was no record of him being a registered attorney, Schorr falsely stated that he had been licensed as an attorney in New York since 1967.
Schorr, who was ordered held without bail at his arraignment, is a second felony offender, having previously been convicted of Attempted Identity Theft in the First Degree (a Class “E” felony) in New York County in 2007. He will be sentenced to 3 ½ to 7 years in prison on this second felony conviction.
Attorney General Schneiderman thanked the United States Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review and the United States Department of Homeland Security, Division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their valuable assistance. The Attorney General also thanked the New York State Police and the New York State Unified Court System, Office of Court Administration.
EOIR Director Juan P. Osuna said, “We are pleased to see the New York Attorney General Office's dedication to investigating and prosecuting fraudulent legal service providers. Bad actors such as Mr. Schorr harm the integrity of immigration proceedings and the lives of those they defraud. The Executive Office for Immigration Review looks forward to continuing its partnership with the New York Attorney General Office's and others in law enforcement to continue the fight against notario fraud.”
James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of ICE-HSI in New York, said, “Mr. Schorr stole tens of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting immigrants in our community, by falsely claiming to be a lawyer while providing poor legal representation to so many looking to be part of the American dream. HSI and its law enforcement partners will continue to dismantle fraud schemes that target the vulnerable and undermine the integrity of our immigration system."
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said, "This guilty plea today once again demonstrates the hard word of law enforcement partners focused on the same goal; holding those who break our laws, accountable. The victims in the case put their trust in a man posing as an attorney. They deserved better. I commend and thank the State Attorney General's Office for their commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who prey on the unsuspecting public.”
Attorneys must be licensed in the State of New York by the New York State Unified Court System, Office of Court Administration. If possible, before meeting or retaining an attorney, consumers should confirm his or her license on the OCA website here.
If you are seeking legal representation outside of New York State, contact that state's licensing authority to confirm that the person is in fact licensed to practice in that jurisdiction.
The investigation was handled by Investigator Sixto Santiago, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Kenneth Morgan, Deputy Chief of Investigations John McManus and Chief Dominick Zarella. Assistant Attorneys General Dariely Rodriguez and Jessica Attie of the Civil Rights Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Kristen Clarke and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Janet Sabel, also participated in the investigation. The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Joseph G. D'Arrigo, with the aid of Legal Analyst David Lisante, of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, and under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton, Bureau Chief Gary Fishman and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.