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Immigration advocate faces 40 years for defrauding Latino immigants

August 16, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Immigration advocate faces 40 years for defrauding Latino immigants

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An immigration advocate who led an organization for Latino tenants in Virginia is scheduled to begin trial this week for reportedly deceiving her customers by pretending to be an immigration attorney.

According to the Washington Post, approximately a dozen former clients are expected to testify against Rose Sanchez-Canete. The woman is the director of the Latino Federation of Tenants Association and has been charged with four counts of felony fraud and a misdemeanor charge of practicing law without a license, which could see her up to 40 years behind bars.

The Tenants Association, also known by the acronym LAFEOTA, was established during the 1980s in Alexandria, Virginia.

Ray Morrogh, an attorney for Virginia state, accuses Sanchez-Canete of misleading clients to believe that she was an immigration attorney and charged legal fees of up to $5,250 for assistance that she didn’t always give.

The immigration advocate has denied all accusations against her, and her attorney, Andrea Mosely, referred to the allegations as “nonsense,” and told the Washington Post that the case is, in essence, a dispute over what help non-attorneys should be permitted to contribute to foreigners.

“LAFEOTA is an organization that has offered much-needed assistance to an under-represented community,” said Mosely.

She added, “These low-cost services are vital to this community, but many organizations and individuals would prefer that the federal government limit these services so that only attorneys can charge for them.”

According to court documents, Sanchez-Canete had stated that the group recruited the help of a lawyer whenever immigration cases came about.

Sanchez-Canete informed detectives that the cash she is accused of stealing were membership dues that covered costs of disputes with translation services and landlords, among other expenses. She implied that the limited ability of the group’s clients to speak English might have caused to confusion about her job.

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