A Los Angeles man is accused of offering fraudulent immigration services and telling a potential client he would only help her if she had sex with him, and investigators said Tuesday they believe there are numerous additional victims with whom they hope to speak.
Jose E. Morales, 67, was arrested April 26 on suspicion of extortion, after he also threatened the victim with having her husband's visa revoked if she refused to engage in intercourse, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a news release.
He had worked at a legal office in 500 block of North Alvarado Street, near where the 101 Freeway separates Westlake and Echo Park, for some 10 years before his arrest, LAPD Officer Mike Lopez said.
Morales posed as lawyer or paralegal despite not being licensed to practice law, authorities said.
A directory outside the building's entrance on Tuesday included “Attorney at Law, Jose Morales.”
His phony services came to light after a woman approached the Alvarado Street business the afternoon of April 3, seeking help with her husband's immigration case, police said.
LAPD said her husband has a U visa, a nonimmigrant status reserved for those who have suffered mental or physical abuse as the result of a crime.
But while the woman was speaking with Morales about her husband's status, Morales allegedly became sexually aggressive. She left quickly, officials said.
But Morales continued to pester her over the next few days with repeated phone calls, during which he said he would provide discounted legal services in exchange for sex, according to police.
After she turned him down, Morales allegedly told her he would abandon the case and threatened to have her husband's visa revoked unless she changed her mind.
At that point, the woman reported his behavior to the local bar association, who told her to contact the police.
Officers arrested Morales following an investigation, but he posted $35,000 bail and was released on April 30, according to Lopez and inmate records.
The case is in the process of being presented to DA's office, Lopez said.
Because Morales had worked at the legal office for at least a decade, detectives believe there are several more victims. Lopez encouraged anyone who may have had a similar experience with him to come forward.
"Regardless of anybody's immigration status whatsoever, the Los Angeles Police Department is here to assist anybody," he said. "If you're the victim of a crime, we want you to know that we're here to help you."
Anyone with information can contact LAPD's Rampart division detectives at 213-484-3640. Anonymous tips can be submitted via 800-222-8477 or www.LACrimeStoppers.org.