NEW YORK, June 22 (Reuters) - Defendants who pose as
attorneys and steal more than $1,000 from their victims could
face felony rather than misdemeanor charges under a bill passed
by the state legislature this week.
The legislation will now go to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his
approval. His office did not immediately comment Friday on
whether he would sign the bill into law.
Impersonating an attorney is currently a misdemeanor in New
York, though posing as a doctor, accountant, social worker or a
number of other licensed professionals carries a felony charge.
Fraudsters posing as lawyers frequently prey on immigrant
communities, where there is a supply of potential victims who
want to apply for green cards and other legal papers but find it
difficult to navigate the bureaucracy.
The legislation would make it a Class E felony to
impersonate a lawyer, a crime punishable by up to four years in
"By passing this law we are standing up for the rights of
all New Yorkers to ensure that individuals receive proper legal
assistance," said Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, a Queens
Democrat who introduced the bill in the assembly.
Senator Charles Fuschillo, a Long Island Republican,
sponsored the Senate version of the bill.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax)
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