INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed two civil lawsuits against businesspeople who allegedly took advantage of consumers seeking immigration assistance.
The lawsuit names Evelyne O. Casiano, doing business as United Hispanic Caring Heart, in Fort Wayne, Ind., as well as the Mexican Civic Association of Indiana Inc. and M. Esther Barber, doing business as Asociacion Civica Mexicana De Indiana Inc., based in Indianapolis.
The two defendants allegedly offered immigration-related services to Spanish-speaking clients but did not have the required licenses or training to do so. Neither defendant is a licensed attorney and neither is legally certified or trained to provide advice on immigration laws to clients.
"To profit from immigrants' desperation over their legal status is considered 'exploitation' in any language," Zoeller said. "In both lawsuits, my office is asking the court to stop these defendants from taking money from consumers for services they legally cannot provide."
Zoeller alleges that Casiano operated as a "notario public" since 2008. Two consumers allegedly paid Casiano for services, including selecting, completing and filing forms with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Casiano claimed to be an "assistant to an attorney," Zoeller alleges, though no such relationship existed.
In the case of M. Esther Barber, Zoeller alleges that Barber directed advertisements at the Spanish-speaking community purporting to be able to provide immigration assistance.
Barber allegedly selected, prepared and completed USCIS immigration forms for consumers for a fee, which is a violation of Indiana law.
In both lawsuits, Zoeller alleges that the defendants were knowingly in violation of the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act by providing services without the required licenses and training.
Zoeller's lawsuits seeks an injunction against Barber and Caisano to prevent them from providing consumers with immigration policy aid, from preparing USCIS forms on consumers' behalf and from accepting payment for attorney services without obtaining a license to practice law.
Additionally, the lawsuits seek consumer restitution for unlawfully obtained funds, civil penalties of up to $5,000 for each knowing violation and up to $500 for each intentional violation of the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.