A.G. Schneiderman Busts Phony Lawyer For Scamming New York Immigrants
Fake Lawyer Charged With Defrauding Unsuspecting Clients And Judges, Stole Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars In Legal Fees
Schneiderman: This Imposter Will Be Held Accountable For His Brazen Scheme To Defraud
NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced charges against Michael Schorr for allegedly conning judges and unsuspecting clients by passing himself off as a licensed attorney. For four years, Schorr held himself out as a lawyer in New York, defrauding multiple victims of tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. He filed false and forged documents with the courts and lied to federal immigration judges. A 35-count indictment charges Schorr with felony grand larceny and scheme to defraud, among other charges. He faces up to 7 years in prison.
“This imposter claimed to be a lawyer and preyed on unsuspecting immigrants who were in desperate need of sound legal advice and stole their money," said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. "By repeatedly making false representations to judges about his status and soliciting clients into believing he could help them during their critical immigration proceedings, this man was committing a brazen fraud while jeopardizing the livelihoods of his victims during a particularly vulnerable point. He will be held accountable."
According to the indictment filed in Manhattan State Supreme Court today, Schorr, of Valley Cottage, New York, 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 arraignment, Schorr not only stole their money but also gave them poor legaladvice, which will now result in 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.
The Attorney General's investigation found that, in addition to New York County, the defendant represented himself on the record to be an attorney in criminal and immigration court matters in other counties and also in New Jersey. The Attorney General's investigation continues.
The indictment charges Schorr with Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a Class "E" felony), Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a Class "D" felony), Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (a Class "E" felony), Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a Class "E" felony), Forgery in the Third Degree (a Class "A" misdemeanor) and Practicing or Appearing as an Attorney-at-Law Without Being Admitted and Registered (a Class "A" misdemeanor).
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. Osunasaid, “EOIR is committed to working with our partners in law enforcement to combat fraud and to ensure the integrity of immigration proceedings. Through our Fraud Prevention Program, EOIR constantly monitors suspected instances of fraud and we are pleased to be able to assist the New York State Attorney General’s Office in their efforts to get rid of fraudulent legal service providers.
James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of ICE-HSI in New York, said, “Members of the immigrant community entrusted and paid Michael Schorr thousands of dollars to represent them in immigration proceedings. What they didn’t know is that Schorr allegedly lied about his credentials and was never a licensed attorney. HSI and the New York State Office of the Attorney General are working to protect the public from fraudulent schemes that not only rob the community of their economic means, but also robs them of their hope in a working government system.”
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amicosaid, "When people seek legal counsel, they put their trust in attorneys who are supposed to guide them and give the best representation possible. It is disturbing that this man was passing himself off as an attorney and that he represented members of the public who deserved better. I am pleased that through our continuing partnership with the State Attorney General's Office, this person and others who would falsely represent themselves as lawyers will be held accountable."
Schorr was arraigned today before Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon. He was ordered held without bail. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
If you feel you have been a victim of this type of crime or if you have additional information regarding this matter, please contact the Attorney General’s office at (212) 416-6521. Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking personnel will be available for individuals who do not speak English.
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: iapps.courts.state.ny.us/attorney/AttorneySearch.
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. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Joseph G. D'Arrigo, with the aid of Legal Analyst David Lisante, of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, and under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton, Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.