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Rabbi David Pleads Guilty |to Immigration Fraud

MANHATTAN (CN) - The so-called Rabbi Avrahom David pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of conspiracy amid charges that his law firm submitted at least 25,000 fraudulent immigration claims.

David, whose legal name is Earl Seth David, was indicted along with 11 others in 2011 and extradited from Canada earlier this year. It is unclear whether David is an actual rabbi.

Prosecutors say David used his Manhattan law office to seek legal status and labor permits for at least 25,000 clients, whom he charged as much as $30,000 apiece for the fraudulent applications.

David, 47, a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, faces up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He also agreed to forfeit at least $2.5 million.

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald is set to sentence David on Aug. 15.

The indictment accused David of steering "a law office that operated at several different locations in Manhattan, and that used several different names, including the 'Law Offices of Earl David'. ... The David firm essentially ceased operations in or about January 2009, when federal search warrants were executed at several locations associated with the David firm," according to the indictment.

David operated a full-service firm, though the services were illegal, prosecutors said. He and his cohorts allegedly forged documents, including employment offers from "sponsors" on phony letterhead, with help from "corrupt accountants who created fake tax returns for fictitious sponsor companies," and from "a corrupt DOL [Department of Labor] employee."

All this "for substantial fees that clients paid, typically in cash, to the David firm - as much as $30,000 per client," according to the indictment.

David fled to Canada in 2006 after learning he was being investigated, but "continued to draw proceeds from the David firm" until at least 2009, prosecutors said. "Among other means, David's co-conspirators made payments to him from the David firm via accounts held in the name of 'Code of the Heart,' a book that David had authored."

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