FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Fake Lawyer Who Falsely Claimed Brooklyn Bar Association as his Office
Pleads Guilty in Connection with Offering Bogus Immigration Services for a Fee
Faces 2 to 4 Years in State Prison at Sentencing
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced today that a Sunset Park man has pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree grand larceny and one count of first-degree immigrant assistance services fraud for posing as an attorney and charging thousands of dollars for immigration services which he failed to deliver.
District Attorney Thompson said, “This fake lawyer targeted and preyed on immigrants in need and who went to him for help. In Brooklyn, we must protect our immigrant communities from such con artists, and today’s conviction shows our commitment to do so.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Howard Seidler, 70, of 336 51st Street, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Seidler today pleaded guilty before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to third-degree grand larceny and first-degree immigrant assistance services fraud. The last felony count went into effect in February 2015 and today’s guilty plea marks the first conviction since it was enacted. Seidler is expected to be sentenced to an indeterminate term of two to four years in prison on the grand larceny count and one-and-a-half to three years on the immigrant assistance services fraud count, to run concurrently.
Between November 2014 and May 2015, the defendant posted advertisements in Sunset Park, identifying himself as an attorney who provides immigration services. The ads and his business card included the titles “Esq.,” PhD” and “J.D.”
A detective investigator from the District Attorney’s Office, working undercover, met with Seidler in the library of the Brooklyn Bar Association at 123 Remsen Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which he claimed to be his office. On April 8, 2015, the detective paid Seidler $3,085 to act as his attorney and help him obtain a green card and a Social Security card. The undercover was then provided with a written retainer contract.
The District Attorney said that on April 24, 2015, the undercover had another meeting with Seidler, who gave him a Social Security card and immigration paperwork purportedly filed on his behalf with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. The investigation found that the Social Security card was forged, that the Social Security number did not belong to the name used by the detective and that no application was filed on his behalf with United States immigration authorities.
The investigation also revealed that the defendant is neither licensed nor registered to practice law in New York and that he is not licensed or accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to provide any services with immigration authorities.
The District Attorney thanked Special Agent Matthew Macchiaroli of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) New York and Neisha Samaroo, a Special Agent with the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, who assisted in the investigation.
The case was supervised by Detective Investigator Rommie Woolcock, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator Thomas Farley and the overall supervision of Richard Bellucci, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jose Interiano, of the District Attorney’s Immigrant Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kin Ng, Chief of the Immigrant Fraud Unit, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division.