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Immigration lawyer faked client's homosexuality to win him asylum

Immigration lawyer faked client's homosexuality to win him asylum

An immigration lawyer in North Carolina has pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the government by submitting false claims on her clients' behalf, including one claim that a client was gay and would be persecuted in his native country. Manlin Chee, 52, of Greensboro, was scheduled to be sentenced March 1. She was indicted in June on 19 counts that included harboring an illegal alien in addition to the conspiracy charges. The government later added nine more counts. Four other people, including one of Chee's daughters, were also indicted. Chee's plea on Tuesday to seven charges came days before her trial was scheduled to begin next Monday. Prosecutors said they would not oppose a motion to drop the remaining charges when Chee is sentenced. It's unclear what kind of sentence she faces. It could change drastically based on an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision that may impact federal sentencing guidelines. Chee is a Singapore native and naturalized American who received national recognition for her free legal services to the poor. She also drew attention for her criticism of post-September 11 security measures such as the Patriot Act. At one point she had built up a huge immigration practice, with offices in Greensboro, Charlotte, and Wilmington, but she has since relinquished her law license to the North Carolina State Bar, citing mental illness. Much of the government's case against Chee stemmed from the work of two men working as undercover FBI informants. One said he falsely claimed he needed political asylum from his homeland of Egypt because he was gay and would be killed or persecuted if he returned. To prove his claim, Chee enlisted the help of Henry Center Jr. of Greensboro, who signed a false affidavit in exchange for $1,500. The affidavit indicated that Center had had a sexual relationship with the man.

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