California authorities arrested Oswaldo Rafael Cabrera for defrauding immigrants. The owner of the International Latin American Coalition in Los Angeles, who posed as an attorney, faces 22 criminal charges against him.
The office of Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced that Cabrera, who is not licensed to practice law in California, is charged with 22 counts of grand larceny, attempted grand larceny, attempted perjury and conspiracy to practice law unlawfully.
Also charges were filed against his wife, María Marcelina Rodas.
Both were arrested yesterday and are currently in jail. Cabrera is being held on $$650,000 bail. Rodas' bail is $$40,000.
Cabrera and Rodas have a court hearing tomorrow, where after being arraigned they will have to plead not guilty or guilty.
If found guilty as charged, Cabrera faces a maximum sentence of 13 years and 4 months in prison. Rodas faces a maximum sentence of 3 years in prison.
The arrest warrant record alleges that Cabrera often presented himself as an attorney, gave legal advice and provided legal services, charging up to $$9000.despite not being authorized or licensed to practice law.
According to the criminal indictment, on numerous occasions, Cabrera misled his victims about the status of their cases, giving them incorrect information about their eligibility for immigration relief and filling out immigration forms incorrectly, while continuing to receive money from the victims.
Cabrera also ignored or lied to victims to avoid reimbursement, sometimes for thousands of dollars, while denying wrongdoing.
Cabrera's mismanagement caused some immigration cases to have irreparable consequences, such as the deportation of family members of the victims.
Law enforcement officers yesterday executed a search warrant at the offices of the International Latin American Coalition and removed several boxes of client files. It is possible that after reviewing the files, more victims may be identified.
Cabrera duped immigrants by his presence in the media
The arrest warrant also states that Cabrera posed as an immigration attorney in the media, appearing on numerous occasions in newscasts and programs on Univision, Estrella TV, HITN-TV, CentroAmerica TV, Lo Nuestro TV LA, and RedTeleSistema.
Cabrera used this high-profile image in the media to attract clients and thus succeeded in duping immigrants seeking his services.
The arrest warrant record also alleges that Cabrera provided immigration consulting services without completing the necessary registration with the California Secretary of State, and that he and his wife, Maria Marcelina Rodas, conspired to violate the Immigration Consultants Act.
The state Attorney General's Office was able to bring the charges against Cabrera thanks to an investigation by the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, which investigated multiple complaints from victims of the fake lawyer.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) also assisted with the investigation.
The District Attorney's Office is working with non-profit organizations and legal clinics to help the victims that Cabrera defrauded.
Office of International Latin American Coalition closed
Following the issuance of the arrest warrant and criminal charges against Cabrera for illegally operating as an attorney, a notice has been posted on the door of the International Latin American Coalition indicating that the office is closed.
The message warns of the office closure and advises people who may have been victims of fraud to contact the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.
Previous Immigration Today alert on Cabrera and International Latin American Coalition
Last year I alerted you to Cabrera and his organization Coalición Latinoamericana Internacional and that there had already been reports that he was facing several lawsuits for defrauding immigrants.
In August 2014, I personally helped a lady get her money and immigration file back after Cabrera refused to return it to her.
A search of official databases confirmed that neither Cabrera nor his organization had permits or certifications from the California or U.S. government to provide immigration legal advice.
The criminal charges and arrest warrant against Cabrera and the International Latin American Coalition demonstrate that this gentleman was running a business illegally and that unfortunately, he harmed many people.
If you have received immigration assistance from Cabrera or Coalición Latinoamericana Internacional, and believe you may have been a victim of fraud, contact the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs immediately at 323-881-7099 and file a formal complaint with the office.