COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser filed a lawsuit on Feb. 3 to stop a Colorado Springs-based company from practicing law without a license and deceptively advertising that the business is qualified to provide family and immigration legal services.
An investigation by the Consumer Fraud Unit of the Colorado Department of Law found evidence that Maleni Munguia and her company, One Connection LLC, as well as employee Noely Diaz, targeted and misled vulnerable communities, including undocumented and non-English speaking individuals, by failing to disclose that the business is not authorized to practice law in Colorado, according to the press release from the AG's office.
Munguia and Diaz are also accused of failing to perform promised services and preparing legal filings and making errors that jeopardized their customers’ legal interests, the AG's office said.
According to the release, the lack of low-cost legal services to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking communities has created an opportunity for unlicensed legal practitioners, also known as "notarios," to step in and promise consumers the help they need to tackle complex immigration, family, and legal matters.
Under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, individuals must obtain all required licenses to perform services for consumers, the AG's office said.
The act prohibits nonlawyers from advising or assisting another person in determining his or her immigration status, applying for an immigration benefit, or preparing and selecting legal documents affecting the right of another in an immigration matter.
“Individuals must be licensed to practice law in the state of Colorado. The law exists to protect individuals, and these deceptive practices risk the safety and livelihood of individuals struggling to navigate emotional and complex legal situations," Weiser said. "My office will hold accountable those misrepresent their professional credentials and target and harm vulnerable communities."
According to the press release, the company has been the subject of prior investigations as Munguia and One Connection have previously practiced law without a license.
In 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court’s Office of Attorney Regulation investigated Munguia and her company for advertising they were “authorized to select and prepare immigration, divorce, and bankruptcy forms for clients,” the release says.
According to the lawsuit, Munguia signed an agreement with the Office of Attorney Regulation to cease the unauthorized practice of law in Colorado. However, she failed to comply with the agreement and continued to advertise and practice law without a license, the DA said.
According to the release, the complaint issued against One Connection is part of the Department’s greater effort to investigate and stop notario fraud.
Coloradans who witness fraud or believe they may be a victim of fraud should file a report with the Attorney General’s Office at 800-222-4444 or at StopFraudColorado.gov.
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