An legal professional in Somerset County was billed Wednesday with making ready phony visa apps on behalf of his customers, boasting on at minimum 1 software that a consumer was searching for asylum simply because he feared for his life if he returned to Mexico, authorities claimed.
Steven G. Thomas, 52, of New Hope, Pennsylvania, who operates a regulation firm in Montgomery Township, “encouraged customers to apply for asylum less than fraudulent pretenses,” U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger reported in a statement.
“(Thomas) suggested clientele relating to the manner in which they ended up most most likely to receive asylum, figuring out that these purchasers did not legitimately qualify for asylum,” Sellinger said.
According to a felony criticism filed Tuesday, Thomas in January 2021 instructed a federal government informant posing as an immigrant that he could implement for asylum primarily based on a “violent predicament in the (man’s) residence place,” and that the asylum would expense $18,000.
The informant explained to the attorney he experienced never been the sufferer of violence though residing in his house place and that he did not participate in politics.
“Despite this, Thomas indicated they could continue with the asylum application,” the complaint states.
Thomas then filed a federal type and an affidavit on behalf of the client, which contained quite a few bogus statements that included threats of torture and persecution, the criticism states.
“I started to be harassed, intimidated and threatened in a way that I began to anxiety for my daily life and the lives of my relatives residing in the identical region,” Thomas allegedly wrote in the affidavit, on behalf of the consumer. “There was an try versus my life.”
In addition, federal government investigators reviewed 100 asylum programs involving 2015 and 2019 that uncovered at least 13 contained similar language about people living in cramped ailments, “in 1 area designed out of a combination of mud, wooden and cardboard.”
“When it rained, the h2o would pour in by means of the cardboard roof and soak us,” the similar affidavits state.
Thomas was scheduled to surface in U.S. District Court docket on Thursday, Sellinger mentioned.