Posted Nov 30, 2012 06:15 pm CST
A California man who falsely passed himself off as an immigration lawyer has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Rey Martin Lespier, 45, pleaded no contest Wednesday to four counts of theft by false pretense in Merced County, Calif., the Merced Sun-Star reports.
Lespier, who is not a licensed attorney, opened offices in two cities under the name “American Legal Incorporated.” He advertised on Spanish-speaking radio stations that he could help immigrants with their legal problems, demanding large sums of money from prospective “clients” upfront, according to prosecutors.
In one particularly egregious case, Lespier took $8,000 from a couple who went to him for help getting green cards, said deputy district attorney Walter Wall, who prosecuted the defendant. Lespier also videotaped the couple’s child, who has Down’s syndrome, telling them that it would help them in their cause with immigration officials.
Deputy public defender Chris Loethen, who represented Lespier, could not be reached for comment by the Sun-Star.