Unauthorized Practice of Law

Democratic Donor Accused of Impersonating a Lawyer

A Democratic campaign donor has been released on bail after being accused of impersonating a lawyer.

Mauricio Celis was released on $50,000 bail, the Caller-Times reports reports. He has a controlling interest in CGT Law Group of Corpus Christi, Texas, the Associated Press reports.

Celis was indicted Friday for impersonating a lawyer and a police officer, theft and perjury, the Caller-Times says. The officer count involved an allegation that Celis displayed a badge and asked an officer to allow him to accompany a client being questioned, KiiTV.com reports. The theft charge relates to allegations that Celis kept money belonging to a client and the perjury charge to statements he made under oath about his educational background.

Two judges had recused themselves from bail hearings. A third, J. Manuel Bañales, rejected prosecutors’ request for a higher bail of $1 million. As a condition of bail, Bañales required Celis to place a sign at his law firm’s offices stating that he is not a lawyer.

The judges did not have to state reasons for their recusals. One of the recused judges had received a $9,500 campaign contribution from Celis. The other had recused herself in a prior suit Celis filed against a personal injury lawyer who ran ads claiming he was not licensed to practice law.

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