Monday, November 7, 2016
Attorney General Charges Disbarred Lawyer With Defrauding Immigrants
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A disbarred attorney has been charged with multiple felonies for defrauding immigrants seeking citizenship by not performing services for which she had been paid over $100,000, the Attorney General’s Office said Friday in a release.
The charges against Mary Yehlen Brooks, who has also used the name Yehlen D. Brooks, according to the Kansas Supreme Court’s disbarment order, were filed in San Joaquin Superior Court. Although not admitted to practice in this state, as a member of another state’s bar she was entitled to practice in the immigration courts, the release noted.
Attorney General Kamala Harris said:
“We must be vigilant against predators, including unscrupulous lawyers and immigration consultants, who take advantage of immigrants, then use scare tactics to prevent them from reporting these crimes. Those who exploit and defraud hard-working immigrants trying to navigate a complex system are despicable, outrageous and will be held accountable.”
The release explained that Brooks would meet clients for initial consultation, demand a lump sum of money, or allow them to make payments, while assuring them she was working on their cases. The Attorney General’s Office said its investigation revealed that she had not assisted the victims, “which in some cases, had dire consequences.”
Brooks “repeatedly misled victims about the status of their cases and lied about paperwork she had submitted, while continuing to collect their money,” the release said, and falsified documents to make it seem to the clients as if their cases were being worked on.
She also used “scare tactics,” such as threatening to inform immigration authorities of her clients’ location and immigration status if they terminated her services, the attorney general alleged.
After clients filed complaints, Brooks surrendered her Kansas license, leading to her disbarment last year. The Kansas high court said Brooks violated rules governing attorney competence, diligence, communication, and fees, as well as safekeeping of client property and termination of representation.
Harris credited the Department of Homeland Security and the Kansas State Bar with assisting their investigation, and said her office is working with Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and the UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic to ensure that victims defrauded by Brooks receive legal assistance.
Copyright 2016, Metropolitan News Company