A woman running a fake law practice across the street from Los Angeles’ largest immigration court allegedly scammed 17 immigrants out of more than $100,000 by pretending to aid in their claims for political asylum, prosecutors said.
Nubia Esmeralda Burrier, 56, was charged with 10 counts of grand theft and one count of burglary after she spent years operating unlicensed law practices in downtown L.A. and Glendale, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and civil court filings.
Burrier, who is not a licensed attorney in California, allegedly filed claims of political asylum on behalf of clients who were ineligible for the program and often charged for services she did not actually perform, according to the district attorney’s office statement. Some of Burrier’s victims were placed in deportation proceedings after seeking her help, according to an 80-page filing from the State Bar earlier this week.
“This person allegedly preyed upon immigrants who lacked the sophistication to navigate the immigration system. She was repeatedly told she could not legally provide immigration services, but, nevertheless, she ignored these warnings,” said Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón. “These kinds of crimes cheat unassuming people out of their hard-earned money and endanger their immigration status.”
Burrier had been meeting with clients in an office on Olive Street — across the street from Los Angeles’ massive immigration court near Pershing Square — for at least 14 years, prosecutors said. She allegedly bilked 17 people out of $127,150.
It was not clear if Burrier had an attorney, and the district attorney’s office did not respond to additional questions Wednesday.
At least 14 people have made complaints about Burrier’s dubious legal practice since 2019, according to the State Bar filing.
Effrain Arrizon paid Burrier more than $14,000 over several years to process an asylum request after entering the U.S. illegally in 2016 with his wife. But after Arrizon began to take part in interviews with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, Burrier’s counsel led them to disaster.
“Shortly after the interviews, Arrizon and his wife were placed in removal proceedings because they were in the U.S. illegally for over a year and did not qualify for asylum relief,” the State Bar complaint read.