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Disbarred Toronto lawyer faces immigration fraud charges

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Former immigration lawyer Angelina Codina was charged with seven counts of fraud over $5,000. The charges come less than three weeks after the 56-year-old was charged with five counts under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. These charges are not Codina’s first brush with the law.

Codina made her first court appearance on the fraud charges on May 27, 2014. She is alleged to have operated several immigration consulting offices throughout Canada and overseas. According to Toronto police, an investigation into Codina’s activities began in 2011 and the investigation was nicknamed “False Angel.” It is alleged the woman held herself out as an immigration lawyer and acted for people on immigration matters. It is further alleged she collected fees of several thousands of dollars from clients and did little or no work.

Codina has been successfully sued in Small Claims Court many times but has never satisfied any of the judgments.

On May 8, Codina was charged by the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) with five counts under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Under that legislation, no one can act for a person in an immigration matter unless they are a licenced lawyer or a certified immigration consultant. It is alleged Codina is neither. It is also illegal under Ontario law to act as a legal consultant or paralegal without being licenced by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

On Nov. 27, 1997, Codina was convicted of one count of fraud over $1,000. She was found to have defrauded the Ontario Legal Aid Plan of approximately $20,000 during 1991 and 1992. She billed the provincial plan for services she did not perform.

After a disciplinary hearing based upon the fraud conviction concluded on Oct. 17, 2002, Codina was disbarred. At the time she was disciplined and her licence to practice law was revoked, she was in jail in New York.

On March 24, 2000, then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced Codina had been sentenced to 9 1/3 to 28 years in prison. She was also ordered to make restitution in the amount of $108, 840.

After a 12-day trial, Codina, who operated an office in New York City, was convicted of two counts of scheme to defraud in the first degree, 10 counts of grand larceny in the third degree, one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree and 14 counts of practicing as an attorney in New York without being admitted to the state bar. She was found to have stolen more than $260,000 from 17 clients who paid large legal fees to her and for which she did no work.

Codina, who was ordered detained on the immigration charges laid in early May, remains in custody. Police believe there may be more victims.