A former attorney for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who used a falsified document in an immigration proceeding, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to 30 days in prison, 100 hours of community service, one year of supervised release, and a 10-year ban on practicing law.
Jonathan M. Love, 58, pleaded guilty in January 2016 to deprivation of constitutional rights under color of law. At Wednesday’s sentencing Magistrate Judge Brian A. Tsuchida said, “This is a very sad day…for no good reason you did great harm to this victim.
The charges are the result of a probe by ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Diggs for the Western District of Washington.
“This sentence should serve as a sobering reminder about the serious consequences awaiting those who violate the public’s trust,” said Shawn Fallah, resident agent in charge for ICE OPR in Seattle. “ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility spearheaded this investigation and we’ll continue to hold our employees to the highest standards of professional conduct. Guarding against illegal or unethical behavior is not an option; it is an obligation we have to the people we serve.”
According to records filed in the case, in May 2009, Love represented to an immigration judge that a particular immigration form had been signed by a person facing deportation in 2000. The evidence indicates that between July 2008 and May 2009, the form was fabricated and altered by Love to appear as though it had been signed in 2000, when in fact it had been signed in 2008. The falsified form impacted the person facing deportation by foreclosing a particular form of relief from deportation. When a new attorney noted the irregularities in the form, the case was reopened and the deportation was stayed. The person facing deportation was granted lawful permanent resident status in 2014.
It is important to note that OPR’s probe did not uncover any other falsified documents in cases Love handled.
The plea agreement calls for Love to resign from any bar associations of which he is a member, and prohibits his re-application for 10 years. Prosecutors argued the ban was appropriate noting that defendants in immigration court have a “right to proceedings free from false and fabricated evidence knowingly presented against them. When that right is denied, a real harm is inflicted both on society, which loses faith that its government plays fair, and the individual who suffers directly.” Love has agreed to pay $12,000 in restitution to the victim for the legal fees spent battling for legal status.