In 2003, a nonattorney, Jesus Lozano, was ordered by a California court to stop “assisting individuals to fill out pleadings, motions, and court forms or other documents and providing counsel or advice related to any legal matter.”
But authorities say Lozano continued taking money from individuals who thought he was an attorney, despite being held in contempt in 2004 and 2013, the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.) reports. His work included criminal, immigration and tort matters.
Earlier this year, he was criminally charged as a result of work by a new Los Angeles city-county task force that focuses on crimes against immigrants. Two undercover investigators recorded Lozano at his office in December as he agreed to provide help with an immigration case, says Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer in a court filing.
The result was a plea bargain in which Lozano entered no-contest pleas to misdemeanor charges of violating a previous injunction; practicing law without a license; and acting as an unregistered immigration consultant, the Times reports. His sentencing, which is expected to include at least 90 days in jail, is pending as the prosecution team tallies up the restitution the court will be asked to require Lozano to pay.
The California state bar is now overseeing nearly 200 cases it says Lozano was handling. Meanwhile, as a condition of his plea the nonattorney is required to stay away from his Van Nuys office.
However, the newspaper says it found Lozano there recently, at a desk laden with tax paperwork and apparent legal documents.
“There’s a big injustice being done to me. I’m being picked on,” he told the newspaper. He claimed that he had settled with individuals who said they were victimized and taken a plea in the criminal case because he lacked resources to fight the claims against him.
He is in fact closing his office, Lozano said. He described the work performed by his West Coast Legal Services business as filling a legitimate need for Spanish-language legal services. Lozano said he focused on filling out forms, and routinely referred clients to legitimate attorneys for legal representation.