Sometimes you have to read a government press release very carefully to get the whole story, particularly when the government has been hoodwinked.
The ICE press release headline sounds very positive: “HSI [Homeland Security Investigations] investigation results in arrest of 2 men for involvement in attorney impersonation scheme”.
What happened is a tale of highly successful deviousness set in motion by two San Antonio immigration lawyers that must have gone on for a couple of years before the feds stumbled on to it. The two lawyers are Jose Maria Guerrero, 68, and his slightly older colleague, Rodolfo Solis Zepada, 75. Guerrero had resigned from the practice of law in 2016 rather than face a disciplinary action — no details were offered on this in the release. Zepada was still an active member of the bar with, apparently, a plethora of clients, including many illegal aliens.
If Zepada had more than he could handle in immigration courts that sometimes allow lawyers to phone in their arguments, why not have Guerrero impersonate him over the phone? They worked out a deal to do just that and, according to the release, “HSI agents identified at least 100 different occasions” when it happened.
Did the courts make use of the Zoom technique of holding meetings in an internet conference call showing the faces of the participants? Apparently not.
It is not that the courts are completely technology-shy. I remember attending immigration court hearings in Arlington, Va., half a dozen years ago in which there was a closed-circuit TV system that allowed prisoners in a detention center in Farmville, Va., to appear in the courts virtually without leaving the center (which is about 100 miles from the courtroom.) Zoom is much less expensive, and less complicated than closed-circuit TV.
A Zoomed-lawyer system would cut costs for aliens, allow for more lawyer representation in a system in which many aliens lack legal counsel, and is thus generally a good thing. But a telephonic system just asks to be corrupted.
All too often the bad guys are more imaginative than the good guys.