Fil-Am immigration consultant seeks case dismissal

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LOS ANGELES – An attorney for a Filipino-American woman convicted of mail fraud and of advising undocumented Filipinos to remain in the country illegally has filed a motion for an acquittal. Daniel Cook, a partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP, on Oct. 7 filed the motion in the US District Court in Northern California asking the court to overturn the jury conviction and acquit Evelyn Sineneng-Smith.

“The evidence presented at trial was insufficient, as a matter of law, to support the guilty verdict on any of these counts,” said Cook in the motion for acquittal.

The motion will be heard on Nov. 18. In the motion for acquittal, Cook argues the federal government failed to provide any evidence to show that his client, Sineneng-Smith, had done anything to encourage or induce illegal immigration to the two Filipino undocumented immigrants who testified against her at trial.

Though their names are a matter of public record, the Asian Journal chose not to publish the names of the two Filipino undocumented immigrants in the motion.

The 66-year-old Sineneng-Smith was convicted in July of three counts each of encouraging illegal immigration for personal financial gain and mail fraud.

According to the US Department of Justice, Sineneng-Smith operated a bonded immigration consulting business and advised undocumented Filipinos to remain in the country illegally.

The DOJ alleges Sineneng-Smith profited from Filipinos with visitors’ visas, who were seeking ways to obtain lawful permanent residency in the US.

Prosecutors said Sineneng-Smith promised her clients labor certifications from the US Department of Labor despite knowing that they did not qualify for an employment-based visa or a green card. Sineneng-Smith told the Asian Journal, these are trumped up charges against her and believes the federal government is setting a horrible precedent for lawyers and immigration consultants.

She said she’s helped hundreds of Filipinos get labor certificates to remain in the country. She believes the two undocumented Filipinos who testified against her were disgruntled clients.

Sineneng-Smith is set to be sentenced sometime in November.

(LA Weekend October 12-15, 2013 Sec A pg.1)

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