Friday, May 16, 2008

State Bar Shuts Down Rogue Immigration Practice

In a coordinated effort with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, The State Bar of California shut down operations of RZ Services, Inc. in Montebello on April 28, 2008. The company had been providing immigration legal services without being licensed to practice law or bonded and registered as an immigration consultant. A team of State Bar investigators entered the offices at 9 a.m. and seized client files.

Investigators also served a court order on several banks to freeze the company’s accounts and notified the phone company and the postal service to reroute phone calls and mail to the State Bar. Romina Aida Zadorian, owner of RZ Services, was arrested by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies at her office. She is charged by the district attorney with 46 counts of grand theft, four of forgery and one of identity theft.

"Through the cooperative efforts of the State Bar and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, we have successfully closed down an operation that preys upon and defrauds our immigrant population,” said State Bar Chief Trial Counsel Scott Drexel. “We believe that this and other similar operations will provide a critical deterrent for those who seek to take advantage of immigrants and others who are in need of legal advice and assistance."

According to a petition filed by the State Bar in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Zadorian is not a licensed California attorney nor a duly bonded immigration consultant, yet she and RZ Services, Inc. provided legal services in connection with a variety of immigration applications, petitions and proceedings. Zadorian established a practice of collecting and then misappropriating filing fees intended for payment to the United States Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The shutdown took place immediately after the State Bar obtained an interim order from the Superior Court assuming jurisdiction over Zadorian’s practice because of her unauthorized practice of law. The State Bar applied to the Superior Court under Business and Professions Code Section 6126.3, which became effective in January 2006.

Assumption of a law practice by a Superior Court under Business and Professions Code Section 6126.3 is based upon the court finding that a person has engaged in the practice of law without being an active member of the State Bar or otherwise authorized to practice in California and that the interest of a client or interested person or entity will be prejudiced if the court does not assume jurisdiction.

Join ALDAP for our next LDA educational presentation, Rogue Document Preparers: Unfair Competition and LDA Compliance, on Friday May 30 at noon.

Orange County Deputy District Attorney Tracy Hughes has successfully prosecuted both civil and criminal cases against non-attorney legal document preparers who refuse to comply with the registration and bonding requirements to become a Legal Document Assistant. She will speak about her successes with previous cases and the consumer harm caused by rogue document preparers; share what can be done to stem the tide of “paralegals” and other unregistered document preparers who advertise to the public; and address questions about what LDAs can do to protect their businesses against unfair competition from illegal operators.

Seating for this event is limited. For information visit ALDAP's website, or to RSVP, contact Suzanne Ervine at ALDAP's annual membership meeting will take place immediately after the presentation.

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