Fake Attorney Convicted In Federal Court
LAREDO - A Dallas area man who thought he could get away with presenting himself as a lawyer in federal court is now headed to prison for more than 5 years. Federal prosecutors say 28-year-old Dale Allen Richardson, of Plano, Texas, posed as an attorney at least twice.
He was ordered to serve 65 months each for two counts of obstruction of justice and another 60 months for making false statements in a motion filed with the court. Richardson was also ordered to pay a $3,000 fine and must pay restitution to the criminal defendants he attempted to represent in court.
Here's the release from the U.S. Attorneys Office that outlines the man's boldness, or sheer lack of understanding as to what he was facing if caught.
"Richardson's lack of credentials to practice law was discovered through an FBI investigation initiated after Richardson filed a pro hac vice motion identifying himself as the "Law Office of Dale Richardson, P.C." requesting the court's permission to temporarily appear in the Southern District of Texas court to represent an alien defendant charged with the misdemeanor offense of illegally entering the United States in June 2010. The U.S. District Clerk's office was unable to verify Richardson's claimed admission to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts bar. Richardson had appeared twice on behalf of the defendant in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott Hacker. In his motion, Richardson claimed to be licensed to practice law not only by the Massachusetts Bar Association but also by the Cherokee Nation Bar Association. When asked by the clerk's office to verify his claimed licenses, Richardson re-submitted the same information and included a copy of a badge emblazoned with the words, "Attorney," "Officer of the Court" and "Cherokee Nation.""
"The FBI's investigation showed that through his business cards and a web page for his "law firm" Richardson advertised himself as an experienced "US Immigration Attorney" and a "federal defense attorney" with an office in Farmers Branch, Texas. In 2009, Richardson had sought to be admitted as a licensed attorney in federal court in the Eastern District of Oklahoma and in 2010 had represented clients, including the alien defendant charged with the misdemeanor illegal entry case in Laredo, in immigration court in Dallas, Texas. However, the FBI's investigation further found that despite his representations, Richardson was not licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The FBI also determined that while Richardson had gained admission to the bar of the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma in 2009, he did so by stealing the bar number of an attorney with a similar sounding name who is licensed in California. During trial, the clerk for the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court testified that Richardson was disbarred on Oct. 4, 2010, after it was discovered that Richardson had fraudulently gained admission to its bar. Moreover, Richardson's "Attorney" badge was fake because the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court does not issue to its licensed attorneys any badges."
"At yesterday's sentencing hearing, Judge Alvarez heard evidence about Richardson's extensive planning and the scope of his fraud. Richardson fabricated dozens of documents to portray himself as an attorney with an established law office, including judicial certificates of good standing, bar memberships, business cards and other advertisements, law firm stationary and client retainer agreements. Richardson, who claimed to specialized in immigration law, typically represented undocumented aliens in removal proceedings in Dallas immigration court or to gain immigration benefits such as visas. He charged fees averaging $2,500. The government introduced evidence of client representation contracts and corresponding receipts for cash payments made by duped clients. Evidence also showed that Richardson continued taking new paying clients until days before his trial in Laredo. While out on bond pending his trial, Richardson also relocated his office from Farmers Branch to a better location in Dallas across the street from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Removal and Deportation Office. In addition to these aggravated circumstances, the government also argued that Richardson in his greed abused the trust of his clients and their families by preying on their undocumented status and their unfamiliarity with the American legal system."
"Telling Richardson that she has "a lot of concerns" about his "manipulation of the (judicial) system" and that his conduct was an "attack on the integrity of the judicial system," Judge Alvarez's made the following specific findings which were considered in the sentences she handed down - Richardson's conduct was an abuse of trust which substantially interfered with the administration of justice as well as a extensive and well-planned and executed fraud which duped vulnerable victims interfering with their "right to be legitimately represented.""