Fake Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Victimizing Immigrants

, New York Law Journal

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A 72-year-old Rockland man who, according to the state attorney general, not only passed himself off as a lawyer but gave lousy legal advice, has pleaded guilty to felony charges in exchange for a sentence of 3½ to 7 years in state prison.

Michael Schorr of Valley Cottage pleaded guilty Wednesday to third-degree grand larceny before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon (See Profile). He will be sentenced Feb. 25 for masquerading as an attorney for four years and defrauding seven clients out of more than $15,000 in legal fees.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office brought a 35-count indictment against Schorr in May (NYLJ, May 8), said in a statement that Schorr appeared repeatedly in the U.S. Immigration Court, where he defrauded and misrepresented Brazilian, Israeli and Mexican clients. Schneiderman said that many of the cases had to be re-opened.

"Phony lawyers preying on our unsuspecting immigrants—people who are in desperate need of sound legal advice—and stealing their hard earned money are criminals," Schneiderman said. "By repeatedly making false representations to judges about his status and soliciting clients into believing he could help them at their immigration proceedings, this man scammed his clients and jeopardized their livelihoods at a particularly vulnerable point."

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Joseph D'Arrigo.

Schorr was represented by Liam Malanaphy of Brooklyn. Malanaphy said his client acknowledges he broke the law, but denies exploiting the immigrant community.

"Michael Schorr tried to help people who came to him and allowed them to believe he was a lawyer, and knows he shouldn't have done that," Malanaphy said. "It was a misguided attempt to help people. He welcomes the opportunity to put this behind him and move on."

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