After previously being halted from providing legal services to immigrants, Mission District “immigration specialist” Leonard Lacayo is being sued again by the City for continuing to allegedly provide fraudulent legal services.
“Leo Lacayo has demonstrated he has zero regard for the law or the immigrant communities he purports to serve,” City Attorney David Chiu said in a press release. “For years, he has profited off of vulnerable immigrants, taking their money while putting them at risk.”
The City sued Lacayo in 2016 for providing legal advice without having a law degree, and for charging clients “thousands of dollars” for sketchy legal services, Mission Local previously reported.
A 2017 injunction barred Lacayo from “providing any immigration-related services in California,” among other prohibitions, according to the City’s lawsuit. Apparently, he failed to listen: U.S. Immigration Services has since received more than 400 unique immigrant applications and petitions from Lacayo’s Mission Street office address, including several documents submitted weeks after the injunction was entered.
Since Lacayo has allegedly violated the injunction multiple times, the City Attorney is asking the Court to enforce and extend the injunction by 60 months. The City Attorney is also requesting that Lacayo’s most recent victims gain access to their immigration documents and are “notified that their cases are not handled by licensed attorneys,” according to a press release from the City Attorney.
“Despite being barred from providing immigration services, Lacayo has conveniently pretended that our injunction against him doesn’t exist,” Chiu said. “We are seeking to put a stop to this unlawful conduct and protect immigrant communities from this scam artist.”
Two undercover City Attorney investigators visited Lacayo’s office at 3330 Mission St. on two different occasions. One investigator, under the alias “Vangelis,” gave Lacayo a made-up backstory of needing to regularize his fiancée’s immigration status. Lacayo allegedly provided Vangelis with immigration paperwork, and charged between $5,340 and $7,340, adding in an offer to marry Vangelis and his fiancée for $600.
When Vangelis asked Lacayo if he would need an attorney, and whether Lacayo was an attorney, Lacayo purportedly replied that he was not an attorney, but that Vangelis would not need one. Lacayo told Vangelis that law school was too long to finish, but that he had a Juris Doctor degree, and noted he had four other attorneys working in the office.
When Lacayo was confronted about his fraudulent immigration services in 2016, he said he was being attacked because he supported former president Donald Trump. The court ignored Lacayo’s allegations and ordered that Lacayo halt his legal services.
“This is an instance of a predatory notario,” Amanda Alvarado Ford, an immigration lawyer with La Raza, said in a press conference about Lacayo’s fraud in 2016, using the Spanish term for an immigration consultant.