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

La Voz Podcast

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
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

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.

OFFICERS

President
James Reyes
FirstPoint Law Group, P.C.
Fairfax, VA
james@firstpointlaw.com

Vice President
Gil Sanchez
Legal Services of Northern Virginia
Manassas, VA
gsanchez@lsnv.org

Past-President
Manuel Leiva
The Leiva Law Firm
Fairfax, VA
mleiva@leiva-law.com

Treasurer
Mikhail N. Lopez
Greenspun Shapiro, P.C.
Fairfax, VA
mnl@greenspunlaw.com

Secretary
Fernando Villarroel
Law Offices of Nader Hasan
Fairfax, VA
fvillarroel@naderhasan.com

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

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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.

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

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Luis A. Perez

This year the election for the Virginia State Bar Council for circuits 4, 13, 17, 18, 19, 28 will be conducted online rather than with paper ballots. Members in good standing The Virginia State Bar Council Election is open through May 1, 2015. Members in good standing should have received an email on April 10, 2015 with instructions on the voting process.

Luis A. Perez, Past President of the HBAVA is running for his second term on the Bar Council for Circuit 19 (Fairfax County). 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.

HBAVA Cohosts Successful 18th Annual Hispanic Law Conference

HBAVA 18 Annual Hispanic Conference

James Reyes, Vice President of HBAVA with Juan Sempertegui, President of HBADC

On April 2 American University Washington College of Law hosted the 18th Annual Hispanic Law Conference which brought together distinguished lawyers, educators, entrepreneurs, and activists who have significantly contributed to the progress of the Latino community. This year’s conference, entitled “Nuestra Voz: Addressing Key Issues for the Hispanic Community” focused on the power of voice.

Throughout the day, personal stories served to unify, empower and highlight the achievements of the Hispanic community at AUWCL and beyond. With the understanding that shared stories can serve to unite communities and ignite change, the conference provided a unique platform to engage people around key issues including immigration, education, the economy, and employment.

The conference included a career fair, panel discussion and awards dinner, which gave attendees the opportunity to network and hear from a wide range of speakers who shared stories of triumph over adversity. Through these powerful moments of reflection, attendees connected and learned from the experiences of others.

During the career fair, over 200 students met with government and private sector employers. Employers in attendance — including Arnold & Porter LLP, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, Proskauer Rose LLP, the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission — were interested specifically in law student and lateral attorney applicants. Attendees were encouraged to submit their resumes for a resume book for employers.

The panel entitled “The Role of the Hispanic Community in Legal, Economic, Educational and Social Issues” was comprised of distinguished individuals from a variety of professions. Each shared their story and provided key insights to overcoming past and current challenges to ensure future success for Latinos in the 21st century. Marcela Salazar of The Raben Group served as moderator of the panel that included:

  • Jose Aristimuño, Founder, “Latino Giant”

    Panel on The Role of the Hispanic Community in Legal, Economic, Educational and Social Issues

  • The Honorable Yolanda Curtin, Judge, Harford County Circuit Court
  • Angela Franco, President and CEO, Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber Commerce
  • Sandra Grossman, Managing Partner and Founder of Grossman Law, LLC
  • Allison Kokkoros, President and CEO, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School
  • Abel Nuñez, Executive Director, Central American Resource Center (CARECEN)
  • Claudio Sanchez, Correspondent, Education, National Desk, National Public Radio (NPR)

This year’s conference concluded with an awards dinner attended by over 200 people. The awards dinner celebrated attorneys and students, and featured a special keynote address by Mario Luis Kreutzberger Blumenfeld (better known as Don Francisco), host of “Sabado Gigante” (Univision). Awards were presented to the following WCL students and alumni:

  • Bertha Astorga ’15 and Paula Avila Guillen ’10, Annual Diversity Award
  • Leila Jade Levi ‘10, Edward Bou Alumni Award
  • Daniela Carrión ’15, Premio Inspiración Award
  • Matías Matilda González Gil ’15, Goldman-Grossman Award
  • Paula Cortes ’15, Jesus Saenz ’15, and Karyna Valdes ’15, LAAW Bar Review Award

During his remarks at the awards dinner, Kreutzberger, who hosts the world’s longest running TV variety show, shared stories of his upbringing and imparted life lessons. In detailing some of the highs and lows that he has experienced over his 50 year career in television, he provided an uplifting message about the power of hard work, tenacity, lifelong learning, and love.  He shared, “I am here because of one word – perseverance.” After his remarks, he answered questions from attendees in English and Spanish and posed for pictures.

The 18th Annual Hispanic Law Conference was co-sponsored by the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Associations of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, the Latino/a Alumni Association of American University Washington College of Law, and American University Washington College of Law’s Latino/a Law Students’ Association, with special thanks to Nossaman LLP and Sutherland LLP for their continued support.

Color of Justice Program Seeks Volunteers and Sponsors

This year the The Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association is organizing the Color of Justice program. At this time, they are in need of attorneys to participate in/volunteer for the program itself. HBAVA will is cosponsoring the event. The successful execution of the program is contingent upon funding.

We welcome contributions from the specialty bars and the legal community. Vannessa R. Jordan is in charge of planning the event and you can reach her by phone by email at novabaasocial@gmail.com.

 

2015 Color of Justice

The 2015 Color of Justice is scheduled for March 28, 2015 at the Albert V. Bryant US Courthouse in Alexandria.

Attorneys are still needed to participate in the Mock Trial and the Small Groups.

Sponsorships are also available!


Saturday March 28, 2015
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Albert V. Bryant US Courthouse
401 Courthouse Square
Alexandria, VA 22314

Attorney and Judicial Participants Needed for Small Group Sessions, Mock Trial, and Q & A Panel.
Please email your name and complete contact information (including email) to Ryma Samuels at rsamuels@vonkellerlaw.com to sign-up.

Presented by Collaboration of:

The U.S. District Court Eastern District of Virginia, The Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association, The Arlington County Bar Association, The Alexandria Bar Association, The Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Virginia, The Fairfax Bar Association, The Hispanic Bar Association of Virginia, The National Association of Women Judges- Virginia Chapter, The Virginia Women Attorneys Association- Northern Virginia Chapter.

 

For information on participating in the 2015 Color of Justice, please click here.

For sponsorship information, please click here for the sponsorship form

HBA-VA Co-sponsors 18th Annual Hispanic Law Conference

HBA Annual ConferenceThe HBA-VA is proud to co-sponsor the 18th Annual Hispanic Law Conference on April 2, 2015. This event brings together inspiring and successful individuals and institutions devoted to the progress of Latinos in the U.S. and the region. The day’s events will conclude with an awards dinner honoring distinguished JD and LL.M. students and alumni, as well as local high school student scholarship recipients. The conference is Co-sponsored by the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Associations of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, the Latino/a Alumni Association of American University Washington College of Law, and American University Washington College of Law’s Latino/a Law Students’ Association. There is no cost to attend the conference part of the event.  However, there is a charge to attend the Awards dinner, which will have as its key note speaker Don Francisco. Over the span of his 50-year  television career, Mario Kreutzberger, better known as “Don Francisco” has become one of the most relevant  and influential figures in the  Spanish-speaking world, leading fundraising campaigns for natural disasters, as well as educational and health issues.

For more information and to register click here.

PDF Brochure - 18th Hispanic Law Conf 2015.