A southern California paralegal who allegedly scammed immigrant farm workers in Santa Maria, resulting in removal proceedings against two people, has been ordered to shut down.
The State Bar of California made the announcement Friday that the office of Vincent Enriquez, who has been doing business as NVE Associates, Inc., was ordered to shut down by the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Enriquez allegedly portrayed himself as an immigration attorney and offered legal services to farm workers, according to a State Bar press release, though his practice is unlicensed.
Enriquez was retained by several people in Santa Maria and reportedly ensured his clients that they qualified for green cards.
He also provided legal advice, according to the State Bar, and he filed asylum applications that resulted in removal proceedings being initiated against two of his clients.
Enriquez allegedly pocketed over $12,000 in legal fees in just those two cases.
The State Bar previously sent Cease and Desist notices to Enriquez, but he did not comply.
According to the press release, the State Bar will attempt to return seized client files or documents to Enriquez’s former clients and inform them that they should seek other legal counsel.
The court authorized the State Bar to freeze any bank account associated with Enriquez’s business and a court date has been set for Dec. 11.
The State Bar advises anyone in California to avoid fraud from attorneys and unlicensed legal providers by searching the attorney’s full name and State Bar number in the State Bar website, get a contract in writing, be wary of requests for cash payments and keep a paper trail.