Wannabe lawyer Finees Casado just cannot stay out of a courtroom, authorities believe.
Two months after pleading guilty to unauthorized practice of law — the legal equivalent of impersonating an attorney — the Gainesville man was back to his old tricks in Atlanta, according to prosecutors.
Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh said Casado, 39, is accused of filing an entry of appearance as an immigration lawyer in federal immigration court within the last few weeks. Casado, who is not a lawyer, was arrested this week on a warrant charging him with violating his probation and on Friday remained in the Hall County Jail.
Superior Court Judge Jason Deal was emphatic when he sentenced Casado in April that he not practice law without a license "in Georgia, or anywhere else."
"Without a license, that just goes without saying," Deal said at the time.
Casado has never passed a bar exam and has no more than two years of legal schooling, yet he set up an office on Jesse Jewell Parkway and took thousands of dollars from clients. He was arrested after posing as a lawyer in an October 2007 plea hearing in front of Senior Superior Court Judge John Girardeau, but afterward continued to show up at the district attorney’s office to negotiate on the behalf of his "clients."
After accepting a guilty plea from Casado, Deal followed the terms of a negotiated sentence, ordering him to serve four years of probation, pay restitution and banishing him from all Georgia counties except for Clayton County, the location of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Deal was told Casado planned on moving back to Massachusetts.
Apparently, according to authorities, that was not the case.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration Court could not say exactly when Casado posed as a lawyer in that court or the circumstances in which he was found out, but said court officials were familiar with him.
The executive office for immigration review's disciplinary counsel notified Casado in writing in October that he was not authorized to practice in front of the immigration courts or the board of immigration appeals, according to Elaine Komis, a spokeswoman for the court.
Darragh said a probation revocation hearing will be held for Casado, possibly later this month.
Casado’s last known attorney, Rob Chambers, was unavailable for comment Friday.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the agency that advised Casado he was not eligible to practice in immigration courts.