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San Francisco City Attorney Files Claim Against Business Alleged to Fraud Immigrants – NBC Bay Area

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San Francisco Attorney David Chiu announced on Thursday that legal action is being taken against an “immigrant consulting business” for charging immigrants for fraudulent legal services they were not authorized to provide. .

A motion was filed Monday to enforce an injunction barring Leonard Lacayo and Lacayo and Associates from providing immigration services.

Lacayo has been accused of defrauding immigrants by pretending to be a lawyer, causing them to “pay for bogus legal services and put many at risk of losing their legal rights.”

Lacayo & Associates has been operating in San Francisco since 1986. Lacayo is reported to be a notary public, but is neither licensed to practice law nor registered as an immigration consultant.

In 2017, the city attorney’s office filed an injunction barring Lacayo & Associates from providing immigration-related services and ordering Lacayo to pay damages and civil penalties.

“Leo Lacayo has demonstrated a total lack of interest in the law or the immigrant community he claims to serve. I took their money while exposing them to the robbery,” Chiu said. “Despite being banned from providing immigration services, Lacayo conveniently pretended that no injunction against him existed. I’m trying to protect you.”

Chiu accused Lacayo of providing unqualified service and even failing to serve its customers. The city attorney also said the businessman “tricked” hundreds of immigrants into paying him to handle immigration matters.

Lacayo has denied the accusations, adding that as a notary public he only does tax preparations. He said lawyers in the same building work with immigrants.

After Lacayo & Associates was barred from providing immigration-related services, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service reported that more than 400 immigration applications and petitions were filed at the company’s address.

“These uninterrupted activities show a blatant disregard for the rule of law,” Chiu’s office said.

A motion filed Monday seeks to enforce the injunction and extend it for five years. The lawsuit also hopes to ensure that Lacayo’s recent clients have access to immigration papers and are informed that their cases are not being handled by a licensed attorney. Chiu also seeks access to penalties, fees, and business transaction records.

Lacayo called the move a “witch hunt” motivated by “political reasons”. He said he would continue his business for tax preparation as he has done since the injunction.

“My office is open,” Lacayo said. “We never closed.”

The investigation was supported by the Justice and Diversity Center of the San Francisco Bar Association, the Chief Trial Attorney’s Office of the California Bar Association, and the San Francisco Bay Area Civil Rights Lawyers Commission, Chiu’s office said.