HBAVA hosts successful Holiday Party!

HBAVA ChristmasOn December 9, 2015, the HBA-VA  hosted its annual Holiday Party, which was co-sponsored by the Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association.  Many were in attendance including 40 past and present members of the HBAVA. Thank you to all who donated food for the ACTS Food Pantry. Event pictures can be viewed in our gallery by clicking here. The HBA-VA thanks all sponsors who made this party possible.

















HBAVA Supports Diversity Conference in seeking funding from the VSB – Please take a moment to write in support

Since its inception, the Diversity Conference has not been funded by the Virginia State Bar (VSB), although the VSB fully funds its other conferences such as the Young Lawyer’s Conference, Senior Lawyer’s Conference, and Conference of Local Bar Associations.

On October 2, the Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued the attached advisory opinion explaining that the stated mission of the Diversity Conference creates no constitutional barrier, as articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Keller v. State Bar of California, to being funded by revenue from mandatory dues.  The Attorney General further stated that the VSB need not to institute a rebate procedure because the activities of the Diversity Conference reasonably relate to the Diversity Conference’s regulatory purposes.

The Hispanic Bar Association of Virginia supports the Diversity Conference in seeking funding from the VSB.

We are asking our members to please take a moment to write in support of funding the Diversity Conference, by sending comments to: PublicComment@VSB.org. Your message could be as simple as one sentence stating that you are in support of the Diversity Conference being funded by the VSB. The deadline for public comments is January 1, 2016.

Click here to view the advisory opinion from the Attorney General Mark Herring.

HNBA Launches “La Voz” Podcast Series to Raise Community Awareness of U.S. Legal System

La Voz Podcast

September 2, 2015

Boston, MA -- The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) announced its national rollout of a new community outreach program designed to raise community awareness about the U.S. system of justice, our legal rights and our civic obligations. The program, called La Voz en el Derecho (“The Voice in the Law,” or “La Voz”) is a Podcast program featuring prominent lawyers, judges, law professors, government officials, and celebrities discussing the fundamentals of U.S. law and how it affects our lives.

Recent studies show that the U.S. public in general lacks a familiarity or basic understanding about U.S. law and how it functions. “Familiarity breeds confidence and trust,” says Cynthia Mares, National HNBA President. “We propose to interact with the Latino community, in particular our immigrant populations, with vibrant messages on U.S. law with the view that a public that is well informed about the legal foundation of our country builds toward a stronger and more secure America,” explains Mares.

La Voz Podcasts will feature a new program on a different topic on a biweekly basis, with select programs also broadcast in Spanish.  While the podcasts will benefit people of all ages, the programs will primarily be directed towards a younger audience. La Voz will be available through the HNBA website, on its home page at www.hnba.com. The home page for the program will also provide resources for obtaining additional information on the topics covered by the Podcast programs. “We are extremely excited about La Voz en el Derecho. The HNBA has put together a team of top notch lawyers to write, direct, and produce the programs and we hope to partner with other organizations to improve the content and expand the reach of La Voz,” concluded Mares.

Ringleader Pleads Guilty in $7.4 Million Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy That Targeted Northern Virginia Hispanic Community

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Rosita Vilchez, 39, a fugitive in Lima, Peru, until she was extradited to the United States in June 2015, pleaded guilty on August 18, 2015 to leading a wide-ranging mortgage fraud conspiracy that targeted hundreds of victims in the northern Virginia Hispanic community. The mortgage fraud scheme, which operated between August 2005 and August 2007, generated nearly $7.4 million in fraudulent proceeds and caused losses of more than $15 million to lenders, most of which were federally insured.

Vilchez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud affecting a financial institution. According to court documents, Vilchez operated a real estate firm (Vilchez & Associates), a title insurance company (Pino Title), and the branch of a loan brokerage business (Mount Vernon Capital Corporation) in Manassas, Va., all of which she used to carry out the fraud scheme. Vilchez and her co-conspirators submitted fraudulent loan documents that falsified their real estate clients’ income, employment, and assets so that they could obtain loans to buy property through Vilchez & Associates, which received commissions of as much as six percent of the selling price of every home.

The Vilchez conspiracy targeted Hispanic clients who were not proficient in spoken or written English, and the borrowers often were unable to read their loan documents and were unaware of the false statements submitted to the lenders on their behalf. According to court filings, the fraudulent loan applications made it possible for the borrowers to qualify for loans they could not afford to repay. Most of these borrowers later lost their homes to foreclosure.

To date, thirteen defendants have been convicted in connection with this conspiracy. Vilchez faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison when she is sentenced on December 4, 2015. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Matthew Alessandrino, FDIC Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the FDIC’s Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorneys James P. Gillis and Julia K. Martinez are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:12-cr-394.

U.S. Attorney's Office - Source

HBA-VA La Familia BBQ 2015


On August 8, 2015, the HBA-VA and HBA-DC hosted a successful La Familia BBQ. Over 50 members and their families attended the gathering and enjoyed good food and a piñata for the children.

Member Spotlight – Jaime Areizaga-Soto

Jaime-Areizaga-SotoJaime Areizaga-Soto serves as the Deputy Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs of Virginia. Mr. Areizaga-Soto works with Secretary John Harvey (retired Navy Admiral) in advising Governor McAuliffe on all matters related to the around 800,000 Virginia veterans and in ensuring that a productive relationship is maintained between the Commonwealth and all Department of Defense (DoD) assets in Virginia. The Secretariat leads Governor’s McAuliffe’s initiatives to ensure Virginia remains DoD’s base and installation location of choice and is the most “military-friendly” state in the Nation.

Mr. Areizaga-Soto has served as an Army National Guard JAG for almost 20 years, holds the rank of Colonel and is the commander of a Judge Advocate Detachment. In 2013 he was called to active duty to attend the war college course in Fort McNair, where his fellow senior officers from the various U.S. services and 15 other nations elected him Class President.

Mr. Areizaga-Soto holds a Masters of Science in Security and Defense from the Inter-American Defense College, a Mágister from the Academia Nacional de Estudios Políticos y Estratégicos (ANEPE) of Chile, and a juris doctor and Masters of Arts in Latin American Studies from Stanford University. He is a 2009 graduate of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Political Leaders Program. He serves as Vice President of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), is a lifetime member of the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), and is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and French.

He is admitted to the practice of law in New York and Washington, DC. He served as a Board Member of the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia (HBA-DC) during 2010. In December 2011 he was elected President-Elect of the HBA-DC.

For over 12 years and until 2007, Areizaga-Soto worked as an international lawyer concentrating in the areas of transportation, electricity, and renewable energy. He worked as an attorney for over eight years in the Global Project Finance Group of Clifford Chance out of the São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, New York and Washington offices. His work entailed structuring and negotiating infrastructure projects resulting in the creation of thousands of jobs and social, economic and sustainable development. Before Clifford Chance, he worked with White & Case LLP, Hogan & Hartson LLP, and Paul, Weiss LLP in Washington, DC.

Areizaga-Soto served as the Deputy Director for Hispanic Affairs at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign. His tasks included gaining the support of Latino voters for President Obama in the battleground states. Exit polls indicate that 72-75% of Latinos supported President Obama in the 2012 election. From January 2012 to July 2013, he served as the President of the Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia (DLOV), the Hispanic Caucus of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA). In 2011, he was a candidate for the Virginia State Senate. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in the newly created 31st Senate District, which included parts of Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun County.

From 2010 to 2011, he was appointed by the Obama Administration to serve as a Senior Attorney Advisor in the Office of the General Counsel of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington, DC. During the 2011 Virginia General Assembly session and during the 2010 session, he served as the Advisor to the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus. In 2009, he served as the Principal Advisor for Latino Affairs to the 2009 Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia.

The Hispanic Bar Association of Virginia congratulates Jaime on his outstanding accomplishments in this Member Spotlight!


Congratulations to our newly elected Board Members for the 2015-2016 Year

We want to congratulate all of our newly elected Board Members for the 2015-2016 Board Year. We particularly welcome Fernando Villarroel for joining the Board this year as the new Secretary of the HBA-VA. All positions will be effective August 1, 2015. If you are interested in becoming involved with the HBA-VA in any capacity, please reach out to me at james@firstpointlaw.com.


James Reyes
FirstPoint Law Group, P.C.
Fairfax, VA

Vice President
Gil Sanchez
Legal Services of Northern Virginia
Manassas, VA

Manuel Leiva
The Leiva Law Firm
Fairfax, VA

Mikhail N. Lopez
Greenspun Shapiro, P.C.
Fairfax, VA

Fernando Villarroel
Law Offices of Nader Hasan
Fairfax, VA

HBA-VA Congratulates Luis Perez on being elected to VSB Council for Circuit 19

Virginia State Bar Council Election – Luis Perez Running for Circuit 19


Luis A. Perez

Luis A. Perez, Past President of the HBAVA, was elected to his second term on the Bar Council for Circuit 19 (Fairfax County) recently. Luis A. Perez is currently the only Hispanic on the Virginia Bar Council.

Mr. Perez received his J.D. with honors from the University of Puerto Rico and an LL.M. in taxation from Georgetown University. He has been actively involved with the Fairfax Bar and the community. He is Past President of The Fairfax Bar Law Foundation and a current member of the Fairfax Bar Board of Directors. He serves as member of the Virginia State Bar Council and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Virginia State Bar Diversity Conference. Mr. Perez is also, Past Chairman of the Fairfax Bar Juvenile and Domestic Relations Committee and member of the Board of Directors of Legal Services Corporation of Virginia. For his outstanding contributions Mr. Perez received the 2007 James Keith Public Service award, the 2009 Chief Justice Harry L. Carrico Pro Bono award, and the 2011 Leaders in the Law award.

Updated Online Spanish Speaking Attorney Directory

We are currently working on updating the online directory of Spanish Speaking attorneys for the Hispanic Bar Association of Virginia. The new version of the online directory is intended as a resource for area attorneys and for members of the public as well. You can add your listing to the directory by clicking on "Submit a Listing" on top of the directory or by emailing the relevant information to james@firstpointlaw.com. You can view the new directory by clicking here.

Applications Being Accepted for 2015 HNBA-LEF Legal Education Action Program for High School Students

The Hispanic National Bar Association - Legal Education Fund Announces Applications Being Accepted for the 2015 HNBA-LEF Legal Education Action Program ("LEAP")

Washington D.C. The Legal Education Fund (LEF) with the outstanding support of the Hispanic National Bar Association, is proud to announce the application period through May 1, 2015, online at www.HNBAFUND.org for the HNBA-LEF Legal Education Action Program (“LEAP”). LEAP introduces Hispanic high school students to the United States legal system.  LEAP enrolls and provides scholarships to selected high school students from diverse backgrounds across the United States. LEAP applications are available now online atwww.HNBAFUND.org.  The 2015 LEAP summer program will be hosted in Houston, Texas, on June 21-28, 2015.  The underwriting of this ambitious education program is made possible by the generous contributions of our supporting sponsors including private donors, corporations, law firms, and law schools.  HNBA-LEAP President Benny Agosto stated, “The students participate in a life shaping experience.  Former students have contacted us to say again how LEAP changed their lives and focus on advancing their education.” We express our gratitude and respect for the leadership of our contributors and supporters, who include but are not limited to, Walmart, Target, Exxon, PEPSICO, DuPont, Abraham Watkins, K&L Gates, Special Counsel, MCT Industries, DLD Lawyers, Chamberlain Law, Lowenstein Sandler, Womble Carlyle, Federal State and local Judges, and Federal and State agencies, and local Hispanic Bar Associations among many others.

“The HNBA-LEF LEAP is established to assure advancement for minority students through higher education. The LEAP program guides students to understand that there are key players and have the capacity to serve as leaders trained in law in our nation's governance, judicial and legal systems.  LEAP also educates students on how our nation’s halls of government are governed by the rule of law,” said Benny Agosto, President of The HNBA-LEF. “The HNBA-LEF is honored to bring this pipeline program to life thanks to the generous backing of our underwriters and sponsors, as well as leaders from our nation’s legal community to accomplish our goals for LEAP,” added Mr. Agosto.

This HNBA-LEF LEAP summer education opportunity has been an annual legal education- immersion program since 2013 hosted in various metropolitan areas across the United States including Los Angeles, California and Hartford, Connecticut.  This year the program is hosted at the Rice University Law School.  LEAP provides students the opportunity to meet with national and international business leaders, lawyers in private practice, government lawyers, government agency officials, and state and federal judges, and law professors.  LEAP participants learn of the many careers they may pursue with a law degree or other graduate degree, by interacting with leaders who resemble their diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.  Annually, participating law professors, lawyers, elected and appointed officials, and judges inspire LEAP participants by sharing their personal success stories and help them set attainable goals to achieve a successful legal career.  LEAP students also are exposed to the legal side of the business world and enhance their understanding the rule of law.  The one-week HNBA-LEF LEAP culminates with students competing in a mock trial with the support of legal advocacy coaches including law school professors and judges.  It is the hope of the HNBA-LEF that LEAP equips students to set their sights on becoming leaders within their communities.

The HNBA-LEF LEAP also provides mentor teaching opportunities for law students, who serve as LEAP student-guides during the one-week summer program.  LEAP law student- guides accompany and support LEAP participants throughout week.   “This immersion program fills a major void in legal education by strengthening diversity in the legal profession through early recruitment of students who represent our Hispanic community,” said Mark Gallegos, HNBA-LEF Executive Board Member, and LEAP Committee Chair.

To download Press Release, please click here.

About the HNBA Legal Education Fund
The HNBA Legal Education Fund (the "Fund"), incorporated in April 2010, is an IRS Section 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, charitable and educational organization dedicated to promoting and facilitating educational programs, exposing underrepresented students and professional to the benefits and opportunities in the legal profession, providing scholarship and financial support to individuals from underrepresented communities to pursue legal careers, and supporting the charitable and education mission of the Hispanic National Bar Association. The Fund is based in Washington, DC, and is the only foundation affiliated with the Hispanic National Bar Association. For information about The Fund, please visit its website: www.hnbafund.com.