Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr (Rick Kopstein)
An immigration attorney has been indicted for allegedly defrauding clients by misrepresenting legal requirements, filing defective applications and taking their money.
Manhattan prosecutors have accused Owolabi Salis of scamming at least 30 clients hailing from countries in the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa.
He allegedly told clients that they qualified for lawful permanent residence when they did not and failed to inform them that the work permits they received were temporary .
Salis, 51, had offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and allegedly charged victims more than $4,500 each for his representation. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Thursday before Acting Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber. Bail was set at $250,000 cash or bond.
He faces up to 21/3 to 7 years in prison on each of the nine counts of third-degree grand larceny, a D felony.
“The immigrants in this case wanted to do the right thing by hiring a licensed attorney to guide them and their families through various legal processes. Instead of providing them with honest representation and advice, the defendant took advantage of their trust and stole from them,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. said in a statement.
Assistant District Attorney Rosemary Yu, co-director of the office’s Immigrant Affairs Program, appeared for the prosecution. Eric Orzick of Orzick & Hupert in Manhattan appeared for Salis.