State charges disbarred Bellevue attorney with illegally practicing immigration law

The state Attorney General's Office has charged a disbarred Bellevue attorney and a business partner with illegally practicing immigration law.

According to a press release from the Attorney General's Office, Grosvenor Anschell, owner of Jona Immigration Services in Bellevue, was charged under the Consumer Protection Act and the Immigration Assistant Practices Act in the case.

Anschell was disbarred in 2000. Soon after, he registered as an immigration assistant with the Secretary of State’s Office. State law allows immigration assistants to provide basic services such as translating documents, securing documents such as birth and marriage certificates, and referring clients to licensed immigration attorneys. 

However, the Attorney General's Office alleges Anschell and his business partner, Samuel Betnona, went far beyond what the law allows and essentially operated an immigration law firm, defying the Supreme Court’s order of disbarment and state law.

Anschell and Betnona are permitted to translate forms, help a person obtain a birth certificate or other document, and provide other services allowed under the Immigration Assistant Practices Act. However, their contracts must comply with state law and inform customers that they are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice.

The defendants must pay a $1,000 civil penalty, with an additional $9,000 in civil penalties suspended, provided they comply with a list of restrictions. They will also pay $9,000 to reimburse the state for costs related to the investigation.

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