Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan has won a court order against an attorney who was charging his clients thousands of dollars for immigration legal work that was never performed.
The lawsuit, filed by Ryan on behalf of the State of Texas, accuses Uchechi Okechukwu Nwakanma and his agents of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act by defrauding local residents of thousands of dollars for legal services related to immigration matters. The suit says Nwakanma charged unsuspecting clients for legal services that were never performed.
Nwakanma is also accused of engaging in false, misleading and deceptive trade practices by promising wholly unrealistic or even legally unattainable results in immigration matters, charging thousands in legal fees based on those false hopes and refusing to refund his clients’ money when they discovered they had been deceived.
Named in the lawsuit with Nwakanma are the Prince Law Group and Prince and Associates P.C. (Nwakanma is also known as Prince U. Nwakanma.)
The temporary restraining order, issued by Harris County District Court Judge Jeff Shadwick prohibits the attorney and his businesses from advertising, taking money from clients or conducting legal work. The order also freezes their assets, including bank accounts, preventing Nwakanma from spending or transferring money. Real property, stocks and contracts cannot be transferred. Safe deposit boxes, storage units and commercial mail boxes cannot be opened.
According to the lawsuit, Nwakanma has been practicing law in Texas without a license. He obtained a law degree from Texas Southern University but has failed the Texas bar exam twice. He has a law license in Kansas but has never practiced there. More than 50 complaints from Texas alleging he has defrauded clients of up to $140,000 have been made to the state of Kansas, his license has been suspended and proceedings to disbar him in that state are underway.
Despite the lack of a Texas license and his suspensions in Kansas and by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals, Nwakanma has continued to claim he is an attorney specializing in immigration law. He has been reaching out to Harris County residents through Spanish-language advertising, claiming that he can help them with their immigration-related issues. But his claims are false promises of unrealistic outcomes regarding the immigration status of his clients or their loved ones.
The lawsuit contains numerous affidavits from clients who have paid Nwakanma for legal work not done. For example:
A woman contacted Nwakanma after hearing a radio ad from him to assist her in applying for a visa for her son. She paid Nwakanma a $5,000 retainer but for three years he rebuffed all of her efforts to get an update on her son’s case. She requested a refund but was denied.
A man paid Nwakanma $7,000 for help with his wife’s residency issues. After three years, he found out no documents had ever been filed in her case. He was denied a refund.
Another woman responded to a radio ad by Nwakanma and paid him $3,500 to help her apply for a provisional waiver so permanent residency could be established. Again no work was done and a refund was denied.
“These are just a few of the people who were defrauded by Mr. Nwakanma,” County Attorney Ryan said. “We will use all means at our disposal to stop this predator.”
For assistance with an immigration matter, Harris County residents may contact an immigration lawyer or other authorized provider located in Harris County, as listed by the Department of Justice HERE, or a pro bono legal service provider listed HERE.