Posted Dec 18, 2012 10:39 pm CST
Updated: Six attorneys are among 21 employees of 10 law firms in New York City who have been criminally charged in federal court in Manhattan with participating in a claimed conspiracy to win asylum for individuals based on false claims of persecution.
A total of 26 individuals are named as defendants in the case and 21 of them were arrested Tuesday, NBC New York reports.
Court papers say that workers at the law firms at issue, which are located in Manhattan’s Chinatown and in Queens, coached clients to lie to U.S. immigration authorities and even provided translators who, if the applicant said something inconsistent with the fabricated story of persecution, falsely translated answers to support it.
An FBI press release says the defendants include four translators and a church worker who coached those who said they had been persecuted over their Christian beliefs.
The press release says the defendants include attorneys Vanessa Bandrich, 33, Ken Giles, 53, Freddy Jacobs, 63, Feng Li, 31, Feng Ling Liu, 46, and John Wang, 32.
A Reuters article provides additional details and says the news agency was unable to obtain comment from any of the defendants or their law firms.
The NBC New York article doesn’t include any comment from the defendants or their counsel. They were scheduled to appear in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The China Press includes apparent photos of some arrests in a foreign-language article about the case.
Updated on Dec. 19 to include China Press and Reuters coverage.