By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK, Dec 18 (Reuters) - More than two dozen lawyers,
paralegals, translators and others associated with 10
immigration law firms in New York were charged on Tuesday with
concocting elaborate lies for hundreds of Chinese clients
seeking asylum applications and helping them deceive immigration
In nine federal indictments unsealed on Tuesday in Manhattan
federal court, the Justice Department accused the defendants of
separate but overlapping schemes that included a purported
deacon training applicants in basic Christian tenets to help
fool agents about their religious background.
Immigrants seeking asylum must show that they have either
suffered persecution in their home countries because of race,
religion or other political and social factors or that they have
a well-founded fear of such persecution.
Clients paid the defendants to fabricate stories of
persecution that included claims of forced abortion or
persecution because of Christian or political beliefs,
prosecutors said. The fraud included fake birth certificates and
letters that falsely stated that asylum seekers had only
recently arrived from China, according to the indictments.
Translators were employed to accompany clients to interviews
with immigration officers, where they gave more favorable
versions of the clients' responses and offered false
translations if necessary, according to the indictments.
Twenty-one of the defendants, including six lawyers, worked
for law firms, mostly in Manhattan's Chinatown.
The firms where the indicted individuals worked include the
Law Firm of Freddy Jacobs; the Law Office of Ken Giles; the Law
Offices of John Wang, Moslemi and Associates; Bandrich and
Associates; Gao and Associates; and the Law Offices of Adedayo
Idowu. None of the firms themselves were charged, though in some
cases their principal attorneys were indicted.
Three other firms where defendants worked were not
identified in the indictments.
Attempts to reach individual defendants or to get comment
from the identified firms were unsuccessful. People who answered
the phones at the Ken Giles, John Wang and Adedayo Idowu firms
declined to comment.
The defendants' lawyers were not immediately known.
All 26 defendants face charges of conspiring to commit
immigration fraud. Five also face charges of immigration fraud,
and two are charged with identity fraud for selling fake birth
The defendants face anywhere from five to 35 years in
Most of the defendants were in custody on Tuesday and were
set to be arraigned Tuesday and Wednesday. Three of the
defendants were still at large on Tuesday afternoon, according
to the U.S. Attorney's office.
"Asylum fraud imposes a tremendous burden on the system and
it also makes it more difficult for those who are legitimately
seeking refuge in this country," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney
Preet Bharara in a statement.
The defendants are: Feng Leng Liu, lawyer, 46; Vanessa
Bandrich, lawyer, 33; Feng Li, lawyer, 31; Yuchang "David" Miao,
office manager, 47; Shuran "Harry" Liu, office manager, 35;
Kevin Lnu, paralegal, age unknown; Wen Ting Zheng, paralegal,
26; Guo Qin "Lillian" Miao, office manager, 45; Sunny Yang,
paralegal, age unknown; Ken Giles, lawyer, 53; Hong Che, aka
Julie Chen, office manager, 49; Freddy Jacobs, lawyer, 63; Fnu
"Daisy" Yang, office manager, age unknown; John Wang, lawyer,
32; Dejin Huang, paralegal, 60; Jian En Wang, office manager,
46; Lianna Chen, translator, 24; Yong "Tom" Zhang, translator,
38; Song "Marshal" Luo, translator, 34; Zian Jun Yang,
translator, 58; Zeyuan "Steve" Wang, paralegal, 32; Xu Lu,
office manager, 42; Huan Wang, paralegal, 40; Liying Lin,
religious trainer, 29; Xiao Feng Xu, office manager, 57; and Xia
Ping "Wendy" Wen, office manager, 49.
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