clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


William Franco, a Salt Lake businessman accused of posing as a lawyer, has been enjoined against offering any immigration-related services and accepting money for legal documents or advice.

The permanent injunction was issued Thursday by 3rd District Judge William B. Bohling against Franco and his company, Manos Professional Services.If the injunction were violated, Franco could be held in contempt, said attorney Gregory Sanders, representing the Utah State Bar.

"In our minds, he's out of the immigration business," Sanders said after the hearing.

Franco did not attend the hearing. However, Franco met privately with bar lawyers Wednesday and agreed to the injunction without admitting wrongdoing.

The injunction prohibits Franco and company staff from advertising legal services, preparing documents filed with the U.S. Immi-gra-tion and Naturalization Service and meeting with clients seeking help in immigration cases.

He is not to draft legal documents, give legal advice or tell anyone he has authority to represent clients in courts or immigration hearings.

The company and Franco were accused of the unauthorized practice of law in a complaint filed last month after a four-month investigation. The bar reached an informal agreement with Franco last fall but decided to file the complaint when he appeared to be violating it, Sanders said.

Franco had claimed to be working as a paralegal under the supervision of lawyer Edward Flint. Unhappy clients told the bar that Franco represented himself as a lawyer, took their money and promised to quickly get them visas or resident cards.

Franco did not explain that the immigrants were risking deportation by following his advice, the bar said.

Catholic Community Services, which assists Utah immigrants with naturalization and asylum cases, is trying to help some of Franco's clients who now face deportation.

The agency handles between 800 and 1,000 immigration cases and charges a sliding scale of fees.

The bar has no authority to seek the return of the clients' money from Franco, Sanders said, and a bar fund for victims of shoddy legal work applies only to clients of lawyers.