Fraudulent Immigration Lawyer Sentenced

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that Angie Codina, who fraudulently portrayed herself as an immigration lawyer and victimized hundreds of people seeking to become United States citizens, was sentenced to a term of 9 1/3 to 28 years in prison and ordered to pay $108,840 in restitution by Manhattan State Supreme Court Judge Laura Visatacion-Lewis . Codina, 42, is a Canadian national, who operated a law office in the Helmsley Building on Park Avenue.

Following a ten day trial that ended on May 12, Codina was convicted of two counts of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree; ten counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, one count of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and 14 counts of Practicing as an Attorney at Law without being admitted and registered in New York State.

Testimony at the trial indicated Codina defrauded as many as 1,000 victims. Witnesses testified they each lost from $7,000 to $178,000 and that Codina stole more than $260,000 in legal fees from the 17 victims named in the charges against her. One victim who was scheduled to testify was unable to do so because he was stranded in the Czech Republic as a result of an exclusion procedure for which he had originally sought Codina's legal assistance.

"My office will vigorously prosecute those who prey upon those who are looking to improve their lives. This defendant boosted the hopes of those least able to afford legal representation. What resulted were falsehoods and shoddy representation," said Spitzer. "Codina turned the dream of American residency and citizenship into nightmares for those who hired her."

The defendant held herself out as lawyer even though she was not authorized to practice law in New York State. Her firm, known as Codina Partners International Attorneys-at-Law, advertised in English and foreign language newspapers. The ads falsely stated that the firm was qualified to provide legal assistance on work visas, green cards, and refugee applications and Codina had offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Paris, Miami, Montreal, London, Toronto and Washington, D.C.

Codina's clients included individuals from Russia, the Ukraine, Albania, Greece, Poland, India, Pakistan, Korea and Israel and other Eastern European nations.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Bernadine Agocha, of the Attorney General's Criminal Prosecution Bureau, under Bureau Chief Janet Cohn.