Feds: suspended immigration lawyer continued to practice law after fraud arrest
Suspended immigration attorney Sherin Thawer was released from federal custody on a personal recognizance bond after her February arrest on fraud charges.
Thawer, who is accused of forging visa applications for unauthorized immigrants, signed court papers agreeing not to violate the order banning her from practicing law, as a condition of her release.
Two days later, she helped someone with an immigration issue, court records show. And she refused to return his money when he learned she wasn’t authorized to practice law, records show.
The U.S. attorney’s office now wants her back in custody. Prosecutors have filed a motion to revoke the Irving lawyer’s pretrial release. A magistrate judge was scheduled to hear that request Monday morning but granted the defense a one-week delay.
Thawer, 45, was arrested by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations at her Coppell home. She is accused of submitting forged law enforcement certification forms to get certain type of visas for immigrants she represented.
Thawer has been suspended from practicing immigration law since November 2013. Her current suspension ends in May 2016, according to the Texas State Bar. She also was given a probated suspension from May 20, 2016 through May 19, 2017, according to the bar.
During her initial court appearance, prosecutors said they thought she would continue to break the law and “take advantage of unsuspecting aliens for her financial benefit.” So they requested that one of the conditions for release be that she not violate any orders relating to her practice of law.
Two days after that, she sent a text message to a man who hired her to handle his pending immigration application, court records show.
The man, who was not identified in court documents, said that Thawer told him to meet her at her Coppell home with his passport, green card, marriage certificate, tax returns and a $100 consulting fee.
She gave him papers to fill out and told him to place them under the welcome mat at her house when he was done filling them out, court records show.
Thawer did work for the client for two weeks and met him at a postal store in Irving where she gave him the application packet, records show.
Thawer told the man to send the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. She told him her name could not be on it because “she was temporarily not licensed to represent me,” court records show.
She did not explain, so the man did an Internet search on her name and learned she had been suspended from practicing law and indicted for fraud.
The man said he did not feel comfortable with her working on his case and he asked her to return his $2,500. She refused, saying she was a lawyer and had “spent quite a bit of time” on his application, court records show.
Prosecutors said they intend to provide more evidence showing that Thawer has “consistently violated orders relating to her practice of law to the detriment of many.”
The seven-count indictment charges Thawer with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with immigration documents, one count of mail fraud, one count of transfer or use of the means of identification of another person and four counts of aggravated identity theft.
Thawer represented immigrants applying for visas to enter or remain in the U.S., officials said. Those included petitions for U Nonimmigrant Status, known as a U-Visa.
To qualify for a U-Visa, an immigrant must have been a victim of certain types of crime and helped law enforcement with an investigation or prosecution. An applicant must submit a form completed by the law enforcement agency that worked on the case.
From March 2012 to September 2014, Thawer submitted forged law enforcement certification forms to get U-Visas for immigrants she represented, authorities said. The forms had the names, badge numbers and signatures of police officers who worked for departments in Fort Worth, DeSoto and Irving, according to the indictment.