Southern California Lawyer Disbarred After Conviction in Multimillion-Dollar Immigration Scheme

Southern California Lawyer Disbarred After Conviction in Multimillion-Dollar Immigration Scheme

The California Supreme Court disbarred an attorney who pleaded guilty to federal fraud and money laundering charges in a scheme that collected more than $50 million from foreign investors seeking green cards, the state bar announced Thursday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California charged Victoria Chan with conspiracy to commit visa fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, international money laundering, and aiding and abetting charges on Nov. 3, 2017.

In a plea agreement, Chan, an attorney in El Monte, California, admitted to exploiting the EB-5 visa program, which provides residency to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 into U.S. business and create 10 new full-time American jobs.

Chan and her father convinced more than 100 Chinese nationals to invest more than $50 million into a business they operated called the California Investment Immigration Fund, according to the plea agreement. Instead of investing the money under the guidelines of the EB-5 program, Chan and her father refunded the money or invested in million-dollar homes, the court filing said. Chan was sentenced to one day in prison with three years of supervised release and was required to forfeit at least seven personal properties worth more than $20 million, according to court documents.

The Office of Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar noted in its motion for summary disbarment that Chan’s felony convictions met the requirement for summary disbarment since the offense involved moral turpitude or the intent to deceive, or defraud, steal or make a false statement. On June 1, the California Supreme Court ordered Chan’s disbarment.

Diane Bass of the Law Office of Diane C. Bass, who represented Chan in the federal fraud and money laundering case did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.

On Thursday and Friday, the state bar also announced the disbarments of the following California lawyers:

1. William L. Reiland, of Visalia, for allegedly failing to comply with probation requirements that followed his suspension after nonpayment of his State Bar licensing fees, and for repeatedly engaging in the unauthorized practice of law during his suspension.
2. Joseph Miranda Hoats, of Covina, after his 2021 felony conviction for perjury. Hoats was part of a scheme to, among other crimes, induce victims to transmit money in exchange for large orders of gas and oil products that he and other defendants knew they could not fulfill.
3. Michael Kenneth Pettersen, a former Los Angeles County district attorney, followed his 2018 misdemeanor conviction for driving under the influence when he rear-ended radio personality, Big Boy.
4. Maurice Steven Newman, of Valley Village, for allegedly making false statements and misrepresentations to his client, and for failing to return unearned legal fees that he received from that client.

Reiland and Hoats did not respond to emails seeking comment at the time of publication. Pettersen and Newman did not have publicly available contact information

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