STOCKTON – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced that defendant Yehlen “Mary” Dorothea Brooks pled guilty to 15 felony counts of grand theft for defrauding immigrant clients seeking citizenship.
The defendant entered her guilty plea in San Joaquin County Superior Court for an expected five-year split sentence to be served locally. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Brooks agreed to pay a total of $371,709 in restitution to the victims.
“This is a cruel case in which a scam artist exploited hard-working immigrants to benefit her own pocket,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The California Department of Justice has zero tolerance for those who prey on and defraud families in need of legal help. Criminals like Brooks ruin lives and tear families apart – and they will be held accountable.”
Brooks operated an immigration law practice in Stockton, California from 2003 to 2017. She targeted vulnerable immigrant clients who sought her help and charged them from $3,000 to up to $16,000 for services she failed to perform. She repeatedly misled victims about the status of their cases and lied about paperwork she had submitted while continuing to collect their money. Some victims who trusted her with every last dollar were detained and deported.
Brooks was disbarred in March 2015 by the Kansas State Bar where she initially had been licensed to practice law. Despite losing her license, Brooks continued her fraudulent law practice in the state of California without disclosing that she was no longer an attorney.
The California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and the University of California, Davis Immigration Law Clinic will ensure that victims defrauded by Brooks receive proper legal assistance.
A copy of the complaint filed against Brooks is attached to the electronic version of this release at: oag.ca.gov/news