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Bar, LA district attorney shut down illegal immigration firm

In a coordinated effort with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, the State Bar last month shut down operations of RZ Services Inc. in Montebello, which had been providing immigration legal services without a law license. Romina Aida Zadorian, owner of RZ Services, was arrested by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies at her office. She is charged by the district attorney with 46 counts of grand theft, four of forgery and one of identity theft.

“Through the cooperative efforts of the State Bar and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, we have successfully closed down an operation that preys upon and defrauds our immigrant population,” said State Bar Chief Trial Counsel Scott Drexel. “We believe that this and other similar operations will provide a critical deterrent for those who seek to take advantage of immigrants and others who are in need of legal advice and assistance.”

Nine State Bar investigators seized 33 boxes with 1,030 client files. Letters have been sent to the clients informing them of the availability of their files at State Bar offices. As part of the shutdown, investigators also served a court order on several banks to freeze the company’s accounts and notified the phone company and the postal service to reroute phone calls and mail to the State Bar.

“It’s very satisfying to be involved in something that directly protects the public from people like Zadorian, who victimize people,” said Alan Gordon, State Bar supervising trial counsel and leader of the shutdown team. He recommended that consumers always check the State Bar Web site or call the State Bar to make sure people who hold themselves out as lawyers are licensed and in good standing.

According to a petition filed by the State Bar in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Zadorian is not a licensed California attorney nor a duly bonded immigration consultant, yet she and RZ Services Inc. provided legal services in connection with a variety of immigration applications, petitions and proceedings. Zadorian established a practice of collecting and then misappropriating filing fees intended for payment to the United States Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services, the petition said. The applications were useless without the accompanying fees.

The shutdown took place immediately after the State Bar obtained an interim order from the Superior Court assuming jurisdiction over Zadorian’s practice because of her unauthorized practice of law. The State Bar applied to the Superior Court under Business and Professions Code §6126.3, which became effective in January 2006.

Assumption of a law practice by a Superior Court under §6126.3 is based upon the court finding that a person has engaged in the practice of law without being an active member of the State Bar or otherwise authorized to practice in California and that the interest of a client or interested person or entity will be prejudiced if the court does not assume jurisdiction.

Since the law was enacted, the State Bar has shut down 16 illegal law practices.

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