Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Carmel on the Case: Lawyer Troubles
Tonight the Florida Bar is investigating a Weston man who has been accused of practicing law without a license. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- You don't have to pay for an attorney to help you become a U.S. citizen.
But Denise Granston and Connie Bogle both from Jamaica say they wanted to hire a lawyer to make sure their forms and papers were correct.
Carmel Cafiero: "Did you think you were dealing with an attorney?"
Denise Granston: "He told me at the beginning he was an attorney."
Connie Bogle: "He said he was. He told me he was a lawyer."
Carmel Cafiero: "No doubt in your mind?"
Connie Bogle: "No doubt in my mind whatsoever."
They hired this man, Patrick Pearce who Bogle says she knew from high school in Jamaica.
When questioned, he told me he is a law school graduate but admits he is not a licensed attorney.
Patrick Pearce: "So what I do is basically non lawyer document preparation. So any allegation that I'm acting as an attorney is not true."
However, the Florida Bar which licenses and regulates lawyers says another client has filed a complaint about Pearce.
The bar says it opened an investigation into Pearce last January and the allegation is that he engaged in the unlicensed practice of law in the immigration area.
Now, both Granston and Bogle have filed similar complaints with the bar.
Yet Pearce maintains anybody who says he did so is wrong.
Patrick Pearce: "All my information, there is nothing. My letterhead, my business card. There is imply in conduct or otherwise that I'm an attorney."
Pearce later sent an email that reads in part, "The allegations are false and are being done by a group of people that are out to slander and defame my impeccable character."
Denise Granston: "I feel betrayed."
Denise and Connie are both educators with advanced degrees.
They say they paid Pearce thousands of dollars but he did not file the proper documents with immigration authorities.
Denise Granston: "I was told that nothing was filed for me that he said he would have filed for me. They didn't get anything of that sort."
Connie Bogle: "It's now two years because he has not done anything. When I called immigration immigration says no we don't have those documents that you're talking about."
They have now hired attorney Bruce Glaskin.
Bruce Glaskin: "He's misrepresented what he can do for them."
Glaskin says he also represents a third person who was an immigration client of Patrick Pearce.
Carmel Cafiero: "All three of those clients have told you one on one they believed him to be an attorney?"
Bruce Glaskin: "Yes."
Carmel Cafiero: "And that they paid for services they did not get?"
Bruce Glaskin: "Absolutely."
Glaskin says when he asked Pearce for their records, he only produced a few documents.
Bruce Glaskin: "All he gave me were two documents and the medical exam that supposedly was submitted a year earlier which was never submitted and they didn't need anyhow."
As you might expect the ladies would like refunds and say Pearce has promised to refund their money, but has not delivered.
Carmel Cafiero: "One more quick question. They say that they've asked for their money back and you haven't returned it."
Patrick Pearce: "That's not true."
Carmel Cafiero: "You've returned money to them"
Patrick Pearce: "No, no. That's not true."
Carmel Cafiero: "What's not true?"
Patrick Pearce: "Let's not talk about that but anyway I have to run so you know, nice to talk to you. Ok nice to talk to you."
Pearce may be talking with the Florida Bar next.
If there's something you think Carmel should investigate, give her a
call or send an e-mail. The address is email@example.com.