FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced today that a Sunset Park man was sentenced to two to four years in prison for posing as an attorney and charging thousands of dollars for immigration services which he failed to deliver.
District Attorney Thompson said, “Howard Seidler is going to an upstate prison because he preyed on some of the most vulnerable members of our society – undocumented immigrants looking for legal help. He falsely claimed to be a lawyer and collected money without doing a thing. We’re determined to protect the people of Brooklyn from all types of con artists, including fake lawyers, and encourage every victim to report scams and other crimes, regardless of immigration status.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Howard Seidler, 70, of 336 51st Street, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to an indeterminate term of two to four years in prison following his guilty plea on February 3, 2016 to charges of third-degree grand larceny and first-degree immigrant assistance services fraud. The last felony count went into effect in February 2015 and the guilty plea marked the first conviction since it was enacted.
The District Attorney said that between November 2014 and May 2015, the defendant posted advertisements in Sunset Park, identifying himself as an attorney who provides immigration services. The ads and his business card included the titles “Esq.,” PhD” and “J.D.”
A detective investigator from the District Attorney’s Office, working undercover, met with Seidler in the library of the Brooklyn Bar Association at 123 Remsen Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which he claimed to be his office. On April 8, 2015, the detective paid Seidler $3,085 to act as his attorney and help him obtain a green card and a Social Security card. The undercover was then provided with a written retainer contract.
The District Attorney said that on April 24, 2015, the undercover had another meeting with Seidler, who gave him a Social Security card and immigration paperwork purportedly filed on his behalf with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. The investigation found that the Social Security card was forged, that the Social Security number did not belong to the name used by the detective and that no application was filed on his behalf with United States immigration authorities.
The investigation also revealed that the defendant is neither licensed nor registered to practice law in New York and that he is not licensed or accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to provide any services with immigration authorities.
The District Attorney thanked Special Agent Matthew Macchiaroli of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) New York and Neisha Samaroo, a Special Agent with the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, who assisted in the investigation.
The case was supervised by Detective Investigator Rommie Woolcock, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator Thomas Farley and the overall supervision of Richard Bellucci, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jose Interiano, of the District Attorney’s Immigrant Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kin Ng, Chief of the Immigrant Fraud Unit, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division.