Dallas Man claimed to be Licensed by State of Massachusetts and Cherokee Nation (Okla.)
LAREDO, TX— A 28-year-old Dallas area resident who falsely represented himself to the U.S. District Court in Laredo to be a lawyer licensed to practice law has been convicted by a federal jury of two counts of obstructing the due administration of justice and filing a motion with the court containing false representations, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno said. The jury returned its verdict late on Wednesday, Oct. 20.
Dale Allen Richardson Jr., 28, of Plano, Texas, was convicted of obstructing the due administration of justice in each of two court appearances before United States Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker and of making false statements in the pro hac vice motion filed with the court. Richardson has been ordered detained without bond pending his sentencing hearing Jan. 13, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez.
All three counts of conviction arose from Richardson’s unlawful representation of a defendant in a criminal case pending before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker.
During the course of the two-day trial before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez, testimony, including that of Judge Hacker, proved that on June 4, 2010, Richardson appeared before Judge Hacker in the Southern District of Texas (SDTX) District Court, Laredo Division, representing himself as the attorney for an alien defendant charged in cause No. 5:10-po-3410. The defendant in that case had been arrested by the United States Border Patrol and charged with the misdemeanor offense of illegally entering the country. Richardson, who had been hired by the defendant’s family, appeared in court as an out-of-town attorney. On that date, Richardson claimed the defendant had a meritorious immigration appeal pending and attempted to negotiate with a federal prosecutor for the dismissal of the criminal case. Based upon Richardson’s representations, Judge Hacker reset the case for June 29, 2010, to allow Richardson time to continue plea discussions.
On June 29, 2010, Richardson again appeared in federal court before Judge Hacker. Both the government and Richardson asked the court to dismiss alien defendant’s case based upon Richardson’s statement as an attorney and officer of the court regarding the status of the defendant’s immigration appeal. That same day, Richardson filed a pro hac vice motion requesting the court’s permission to temporarily appear in the SDTX court to represent the defendant. In his motion, Richardson identified himself as the “Law Office of Dale Richardson, P.C.,” and claimed to be licensed by the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Cherokee Nation Bar Association. However, the U.S. District Court Clerk’s Office could not verify a license in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for Richardson. In response to a request from the clerk’s office to confirm the information provided and request for additional documentation, Richardson re-submitted the same information, which included a copy of a badge emblazoned with the words “Attorney,” “Officer of the Court,” and “Cherokee Nation.”
The FBI conducted an investigation of the matter. Through that investigation it was learned from Richardson’s business cards and a web page for his “law firm” that Richardson advertised himself as a “US Immigration Attorney” and a “federal defense attorney” with an office in Farmers Branch, Texas. In 2009, Richardson had sought to be admitted as a licensed attorney in federal court in the Eastern District of Oklahoma and in 2010 had represented at least two clients, including Reyes, in immigration court in Dallas, Texas. However, the FBI’s investigation found that despite his representations, Richardson was not licensed by the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. His membership in the bar association, a non-profit voluntary organization serving the public and the legal profession, did not authorize Richardson to practice law. The FBI also determined that while Richardson had gained admission to the bar of the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma in 2009, he did so by stealing the bar number of an attorney with a similar sounding name who is licensed in California.
During trial, a clerk for the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court testified that Richardson was disbarred on Oct. 4, 2010, and that she had never seen a badge like Richardson’s “Attorney” badge because the court does not issue them to its licensed attorneys. The mother of the alien defendant testified that although Richardson claimed he was not going to charge her for helping her son in the criminal case, she was going to help grow his law practice by referring clients.
Assistant United States Attorney Diana Song prosecuted the case.