An attorney in Somerset County was billed Wednesday with preparing phony visa apps on behalf of his clientele, saying on at the very least a person application that a consumer was in search of asylum simply because he feared for his lifestyle if he returned to Mexico, authorities claimed.

Steven G. Thomas, 52, of New Hope, Pennsylvania, who operates a regulation organization in Montgomery Township, “encouraged customers to use for asylum beneath fraudulent pretenses,” U.S. Lawyer Philip R. Sellinger claimed in a assertion.

“(Thomas) recommended consumers about the fashion in which they have been most most likely to receive asylum, understanding that these clientele did not legitimately qualify for asylum,” Sellinger mentioned.

According to a felony grievance filed Tuesday, Thomas in January 2021 informed a govt informant posing as an immigrant that he could implement for asylum dependent on a “violent scenario in the (man’s) household country,” and that the asylum would price tag $18,000.

The informant instructed the lawyer he experienced hardly ever been the victim of violence when dwelling in his house state and that he did not participate in politics.

“Despite this, Thomas indicated they could commence with the asylum software,” the grievance states.

Thomas then submitted a federal sort and an affidavit on behalf of the shopper, which contained a number of phony statements that provided threats of torture and persecution, the grievance states.

“I began to be harassed, intimidated and threatened in a way that I commenced to dread for my existence and the life of my kin dwelling in the very same space,” Thomas allegedly wrote in the affidavit, on behalf of the client. “There was an try from my lifestyle.”

In addition, authorities investigators reviewed 100 asylum purposes in between 2015 and 2019 that uncovered at the very least 13 contained similar language about persons living in cramped ailments, “in just one room constructed out of a combination of mud, wooden and cardboard.”

“When it rained, the h2o would pour in as a result of the cardboard roof and soak us,” the identical affidavits point out.

Thomas was scheduled to surface in U.S. District Court on Thursday, Sellinger mentioned.

Anthony G. Attrino may perhaps be reached at [email protected]. Stick to him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Fb.