- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Waltham Man Ordered to Pay More Than $150,000 for Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law
Boston — A Waltham man and his company have been ordered to pay more than $150,000 for the unauthorized practice of immigration law, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Peter Lauriat last week ordered Gerson Barahona and his company, Gerlatin Modeling and Legal Sub-Contractor Co. LLC, to pay $155,760 in restitution to victims, civil penalties, and attorney’s fees.
Barahona knowingly defrauded hundreds of Massachusetts residents by falsely holding himself out as an attorney specializing in immigration law, unlawfully charging his victims hundreds or thousands of dollars for legal advice and services, and purporting to represent individuals in immigration proceedings without authorization or accreditation.
“This defendant deceived vulnerable people who trusted him to help them with sensitive immigration matters, resulting in significant personal and financial harm,” AG Healey said. “Our office will continue to advocate for immigrants and other vulnerable populations by prosecuting those who try to take advantage of them.”
The AG’s Office sought and was granted a preliminary injunction in December 2014 that ordered Gerson to stop engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and to stop providing any services related to immigration matters.
In a complaint filed by the AG’s Office, also in December 2014, the AG’s Office alleged that Barahona charged fees for services that were of no benefit to his victims, including helping them to apply for programs or benefits when he knew or should have known that they were never eligible.
According to the complaint, Barahona is commissioned as a notary public, but he is not a licensed attorney, as he represented to numerous residents. Barahona is also not an “Accredited Representative,” a special designation given by the federal government to a small number of non-lawyers who have special knowledge and experience in immigration law and are permitted to represent clients in immigration proceedings.
Please click here for the Spanish version of this press release.
The unauthorized practice of immigration law is a widespread problem in Massachusetts and throughout the country. The AG’s Office issued an advisory regarding the unauthorized practice of immigration law that has helpful tips for consumers to consider before hiring someone to provide legal advice or representation in connection with immigration matters.
The AG’s Civil Rights Division encourages consumers who think they have been victimized by an unauthorized immigration law scheme – including by Gerson Barahona – to call (617) 963-2917 or file a Civil Rights E-Complaint.
This matter was handled by Division Chief Genevieve C. Nadeau and Paralegal Neel Mehrotra of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division and Shannon Roark of the AG’s Civil Investigations Division, with assistance from U. S. Citizenship & Immigration Services’ Office of Fraud Detection & National Security in Boston.