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Aspiring attorney to be jailed for setting up fake law firms

Tampa resident Roberta Guedes, a law school graduate, was convicted of mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

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  • | 8:58 a.m. November 19, 2020
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  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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TAMPA — Roberta Guedes has been sentenced to four and a half years in federal prison for a scheme in which she fraudulently posed and practiced as a licensed attorney. She was also ordered by Senior U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. to pay $14,318 in restitution to victims. 

According to a press release, Guedes, 41, graduated from Stetson University College of Law but twice failed to pass the Florida Bar exam and never obtained a license to practice law in the state. 

In 2014, the release states, Guedes set up two fake law firms — Ferguson and McKenzie LLC and Immigration and Litigation Law Office Inc. — and rented office space in Rivergate Tower in downtown Tampa. She marketed her legal services and won the business of several client-victims, authorities contended. 

According to the release, Guedes also impersonated a law school classmate and licensed attorney who had no involvement in her fraudulent scheme, even going so far as to file court pleadings and immigration petitions using her former classmate’s name and Florida Bar number.

When the Florida Bar launched an investigation of her conduct, Guedes, the release states, attempted to undermine and discredit the probe by filing a third-party affidavit. She also used victims’ personal information, including Social Security numbers, to set up bank and credit card accounts.

“For years, Guedes engaged in a brazen pattern of fraud and deceit upon our legal and financial institutions,” states Hector Colon, a Tampa-based assistant special agent in charge with Homeland Security Investigations, one of the agencies that worked the case, in the release. “Thanks to HSI and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services special agents and the Largo Police Department, she will be held accountable for her crimes.”

Guedes pled guilty to charges of mail fraud and aggravated identity theft in December 2019. 

“The defendant’s illegal actions abused the trust placed in her by clients,” USCIS Tampa District Director Michael Borgen states in the release. “USCIS is dedicated to identifying and exposing immigration fraud schemes, and we are proud to have partnered with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to shut down this illegal and deceptive practice.”


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