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Lawyer for Con Man Needs Refresher in Civil v. Criminal Law

Immigration Marc Payen might want to consider hiring new counsel. Payen was arrested yesterday in New York, and charged with 23 counts, including grand larceny, forgery, criminal possession of a forged instrument, scheme to defraud and the unauthorized practice of law.

Payen is accused of falsely claiming to be a lawyer employed by the United Nations and scamming Haitian immigrants out of thousands of dollars by promising to file papers seeking temporary protected status on their behalf. Payen had been charged in a similar scheme last year by the Queens County District Attorney, pleaded guilty and served four months in jail.

Payen's lawyer has already chosen a defense strategy: The 23 counts with which my client is charged, some of which constitute Class D felonies for which he could get seven years in prison, are really no big deal and properly handled as a civil matter:

"This is a nonviolent felony offense. If certain services were supposedly rendered that were not rendered, then the individuals who paid for the services may very well be entitled to their money back. Whether a crime was committed is another story," said Payen's attorney D. Andrew Marshall.

Now, I'm far removed from my first year of law school, but last I checked, "felony offenses" generally constitute "crimes." And taking money in return for a promise to render services that you are not licensed to render, and have no intention of rendering, well, that sounds like it could very well be larceny.

It could always be worse for Payen, I guess. He could be represented by Colin Ferguson.

Posted by Eric Lipman on August 10, 2010 at 03:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

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