Judith and Minerva Gil sentenced for cheating and swindling immigrants

Judith and Minerva Gil
Judith and Minerva Gil, charged with multiple criminal counts of swindling and unlawful practice of immigration laws, were sentenced.

Two women accused of illegally operating an immigration consulting business and defrauding immigrants pleaded no contest to multiple criminal charges against them and have been sentenced for their illegal activities.

According to the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, Judith Gil, 65, and her daughter, Minerva Gil, 36, exploited the vulnerability of immigrants seeking residency, asylum and other forms of legal status by defrauding them of false information and unauthorized legal advice, charging thousands of dollars and defrauding their clients.

Judith Gil, a native of El Salvador who faced 17 criminal charges, pleaded no contest to charges of practicing law without a license, two counts of unlawfully engaging in business and acting as an immigration consultant, one count of unlawfully disseminating misrepresentations that she lawfully operated her business as an immigration consultant, and one count of grand theft.

Punishment of Judith Gil:

  1. 36-month summary parole
  2. Serve 60 days in County jail, 60 days of house arrest or perform 45 days of community service.
  3. Pay full restitution to three of its victims in the total amount of US$$13,355.

Minerva Gil, who was facing 3 criminal charges, also opted not to contest a charge of unlawfully engaging in the business and acting as an immigration consultant.

Punishment of Minerva Gil:

  1. 36-month summary parole
  2. Serve 30 days in County jail or perform 20 days of community service.
  3. Pay restitution of $$3,855 to a victim.

To both women were ordered never to act or promote themselves as immigration lawyers or consultants again.unless they obtain the proper licenses.

In February 2019, a month after the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office filed criminal charges against Judith and Minerva Gil, The Bar obtained a court order to take possession of the illegal business' offices and seized more than 300 boxes containing approximately 1,000 active client files. In those files they found personal documents such as green cards, work permits and Social Security cards for clients who never received them.

Insufficient sentence

The damage these women have done, like so many other immigration consultants, is in many cases irreparable.

It is good to know that authorities are investigating scammers who take advantage of immigrants, but it is important to make an example of these unscrupulous individuals.

Judith and Minerva Gil's sentence is insufficient. A punishment as light as the one they received - despite the magnitude of the harm they caused to so many immigrants - will probably not discourage or deter others who, without a license or real knowledge of immigration law, act as immigration consultants without regard to the implications of shoddy work.

Here the losers are not these alleged consultants, who with a punishment of community service, can continue to practice with impunity until they are found again acting in violation of the law, as in the case of the swindler Eddie Rivas Bonilla who, after being convicted in 2017, continued his illegal consulting work until he was discovered again for the authorities.

The real losers are the immigrants who trusted the wrong people to resolve their legal situation, paid thousands of dollars and, for the most part, lose their cases due to mistakes made by these consultants or are even deported.

It is crucial that the authorities be much firmer in condemning notarios, immigration consultants or paper pushers who practice law without a license and cause so much harm. But even more importantly, the immigrant community must avoid turning to these unscrupulous people for legal help. Doing so can ruin their chances of staying in the country legally.