City Attorney David Chiu

City Attorney takes legal action to stop predatory immigration consulting business

City files motion to stop Lacayo & Associates from providing fraudulent immigration services that put immigrant communities at risk

SAN FRANCISCO (August 11, 2022) — City Attorney David Chiu announced today that he has taken legal action against a predatory immigration consulting business for charging vulnerable immigrants for fraudulent legal services it was not allowed to provide. The City, acting on behalf of the People of the State of California, filed a motion to enforce an injunction that prohibits Leonard Lacayo and Lacayo & Associates from providing immigration services. For years, Lacayo has falsely represented himself as a lawyer, scamming immigrants into paying for sham legal services and putting many at risk of losing their legal rights.

City Attorney David Chiu
City Attorney David Chiu

“Leo Lacayo has demonstrated he has zero regard for the law or the immigrant communities he purports to serve,” said City Attorney Chiu. “For years, he has profited off of vulnerable immigrants, taking their money while putting them at risk. Despite being barred from providing immigration services, Lacayo has conveniently pretended that our injunction against him doesn’t exist. We are seeking to put a stop to this unlawful conduct and protect immigrant communities from this scam artist.”

Lacayo & Associates has been operating in San Francisco since 1986. Leonard Lacayo is a notary public, but has never been licensed to practice law nor registered with the state as an immigration consultant. For years, Lacayo has falsely portrayed himself as an attorney and either provided services he was not qualified to provide or simply failed to provide any service at all. Despite being unqualified and unlicensed, Lacayo has tricked hundreds of vulnerable people into paying him to handle incredibly complex and high-stakes immigration matters.

In 2017, the City Attorney’s Office secured an injunction that prohibited Lacayo & Associates from providing any immigration-related services. Additionally, Lacayo was ordered to pay restitution and civil penalties.

Lacayo & Associates have continued to victimize the immigrant community despite the injunction. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reports that since the injunction was entered, it has received over 400 unique immigration applications and petitions associated with the address of Lacayo & Associates, including several documents submitted in the immediate weeks and months after the 2017 injunction was granted. These uninterrupted activities display a blatant disregard for the rule of law.

The City’s motion, filed August 8, seeks to enforce the 2017 injunction prohibiting Lacayo & Associates from providing immigration services and seeks to extend the injunction for 60 months. The action asks the Court to ensure Lacayo’s most recent victims can gain access to their immigration documents and are notified that their cases are not handled by licensed attorneys. The City is also seeking penalties and fees as well as access to Lacayo’s business transaction records.

The City received valuable assistance in its investigation and preparation of witness declarations from the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco, the California State Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The case is People of the State of California v. Leonard Lacayo, et al., San Francisco Superior Court, Case No. CGC-16-553699. The motion to enforce can be found here.

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