D.A. Vance: Phony Attorney Indicted for Stealing From Immigrant New Yorkers


August 16, 2019

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of KEFFERY ODEAN WILLIAMS, 34, for fraudulently representing himself as an immigration attorney and stealing thousands of dollars from at least three Jamaican immigrants seeking legal services. WILLIAMS is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with 10 counts, including Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree, and Identity Theft in the Second Degree, among other charges.[1]
 
“At a time when immigration policy is forefront in the news and in the minds of many New Yorkers, phony attorneys continue to prey on the vulnerabilities of individuals seeking a pathway to legal status,” said District Attorney Vance. “As alleged, Keffery Oden Williams masqueraded as an immigration attorney to exploit immigrant New Yorkers and then stole the identity of a registered attorney after suspicions arose. Thanks to one of the savvy victims who approached the Office of Court Administration, we were able to uncover this scheme. We believe there may be additional victims of “Kerry and Associates LLP.” I urge victims and others with relevant information to call my Office’s Immigrant Affairs hotline at (212) 335-3600. Regardless of your immigration status, we are here to protect your safety and your rights.”
 
According to court documents, from June 2017 to March 2019, WILLIAMS orchestrated a scheme in which he posed as an attorney working for the fake law firm Kerry and Associates LLP, which purportedly specialized in immigration law. WILLIAMS met with the victims at the purported law firm in an office space at 276 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, which he leased under the name “New York Immigration Law Firm.” There, WILLIAMS provided so-called legal advice, discussed the fees required for the filing of the immigration application, and discussed the fee that he would charge for his purported legal services. WILLIAMS collected purported “legal fees” ranging from approximately $700 to $2,000 per victim. WILLIAMS also collected money orders from several of the victims intended for use as payment for immigration applications submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). Instead of submitting the victims’ money orders to USCIS as required, WILLIAMS deposited the payments into his bank account for personal use. When the victims followed up with USCIS to determine the status of their applications, they were informed that payment was not received. Meanwhile, WILLIAMS concealed his theft of the money orders by falsely attempting to reassure his victims that their applications were still being processed and telling them to have patience.
 
The Manhattan D.A.’s Office launched an investigation into the defendant’s alleged scheme after a victim attempted to verify the attorney registration number WILLIAMS provided with the Office of Court Administration (“OCA”). Subsequently, OCA confirmed the unique identification number provided by the defendant was associated with another attorney and that there was no attorney admitted in the state of New York named Keffery Odean Williams.

Assistant D.A. Kelly Thomas is handling the prosecution of the case, under the supervision of Assistant D.A. Gloria Garcia, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau, as well as Executive Assistant D.A. Michael Sachs, Chief of the Investigation Division. Former Immigrant Affairs Unit Program Coordinator Lotus Ho and Program Coordinator Emily Pearson-Beck assisted with the investigation, as did Investigator Stephanie Luk.

District Attorney Vance thanked Postal Inspector Jamon Parham at the United States Postal Inspection Service and NYPD Detective Stephan Kroski of Manhattan South’s Grand Larceny Squad for their assistance with the investigation.

 

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court, including the indictments, and statements made on the record in court.            

 

Defendant Information:
 
KEFFERY ODEAN WILLIAMS, D.O.B. 8/13/1985
QUEENS, NY
 
Charged:

  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
  • Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
  • Identity Theft in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count
  • Practicing as an Attorney Without Being Licensed or Admitted, a misdemeanor, 2 counts