Friday, April 26, 2013
Texas Attorney General Shuts Down Unlawful Legal Services ProviderAUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has resolved the State’s enforcement action against Austin-based legal services provider Just for People, Inc. In July 2012, the State charged Just for People, its directors and its affiliates with providing unauthorized legal advice, document preparation and other immigration-related services in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA).
On Monday, a Travis County district court granted the State’s request for a permanent injunction against Just for People and ordered that the unlawful immigration consulting firm be dissolved, thereby prohibiting the firm from continuing to offer or provide unauthorized immigration consulting services. Under the terms of the court’s order, Just for People must pay $480,000 in civil penalties and more than $195,000 in restitution for violations of the DTPA.
Earlier this month, Just for People’s two directors, an employee and affiliates were prohibited from providing unauthorized legal services. On April 18, Travis County district courts issued permanent injunctions against Elizabeth Gabriella “Gabby” Paneque, director and president of Just for People; Frank Alarcon Marimon, director and vice-president of Just for People and its affiliate, Lead God; and employee Anthony Burgos.
For violations of the DTPA, the three individual defendants must pay a combined $930,000 in civil penalties to the State should they violate any provision of the judgment in the future. Paneque, Marimon and Burgos also must make monthly payments into the restitution fund created under Monday’s court order.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office will administer the restitution fund established under the permanent injunction issued against Just for People. The defendants’ former customers will be notified by mail if they are eligible for restitution. The Texas Attorney General’s Office will allot shares of the restitution fund to eligible customers on a pro rata basis.
Since 2002, Attorney General Abbott has shut down more than 75 unauthorized legal services providers throughout Texas that were not qualified or accredited to handle immigration-related legal matters.