Volume 20, Number 36 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | August 25 - September 1, 2010
Fake immigration counsel indicted for scamming Chinatown residents
Te-hu Tsuei, 54, known as Peter, was indicted Monday for stealing more than $6,000 from Chinatown residents by falsely claiming to be an immigration lawyer or experienced paralegal who worked for an immigration lawyer.
Tsuei, a Jamaica, N.Y., resident, worked out of an office at 240 Grand St. near Bowery when the thefts took place from November 2007 to May 2009.
The offences became known when two victims reported Tsuei to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Immigrant Affairs Program at a June 2009 safety seminary in Chinatown sponsored by District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
The defendant introduced himself as an immigration lawyer to one victim and as an experienced immigration paralegal to the other victim even though he was not a lawyer nor authorized by the federal Board of Immigration Appeals to provide legal services to immigrants, the indictment says.
After paying a total of more than $6,000 to Tsuei, the victims, who did not know each other, were unable to reach Tsuei and discovered in May of last year that his office at 240 Grand St. was closed.
“We are pleased that the community’s support stemming from a safety seminar conducted by the District Attorney’s office led directly to today’s indictment,” Vance said. The case is still under investigation and the District Attorney’s office is aware of other victims. Vance is asking victims to call his Immigrant Affairs Program at 212-335-3600. The Asset Forfeiture division of the office has brought a civil suit against Tsuei to seize the proceeds from the scheme.
Tsuei pleaded not guilty and was being held pending $500,000 bail for a Sept. 16 court appearance.
Sleeper doesn’t lie
Two women, who stole credit cards and laptop computers from a Financial District resident while he was sleeping in his apartment in January of this year, have been arrested and are facing burglary and grand larceny charges.
Charlotte Lewis, 26, was arrested Mon., Aug. 16, when a surveillance camera at an ATM at the Sovereign Bank on Hudson St. taped her after the victim’s bank card was used, according to charges filed by the Manhattan District Attorney.
Asia Kelly, 23, was arrested in February when she was taped on a surveillance video after the victim’s bank card was used at the Hudson St. Bank
The victim, 34, had invited the two suspects and a third accomplice to his Wall St. apartment and fell asleep, according to the complaint filed. When he woke up the “guests” were gone and so were his bank cards, laptop computers and necklaces belonging to the victim’s roommate, police said.
Lewis and Kelly pleaded not guilty and are to appear in court on Oct. 5.
Downtown motorcycle deaths
Two men died after their motorcycle struck a pole at 12:26 a.m. Sun., Aug. 22 on the southbound lane of FDR Dr. at Broad St. The driver, Jose Almonte-Castillo, 18, of 530 W. 174th St. in Washington Heights and his passenger, Raynoso Wasker, 25 , of 520 W. 174th St., were declared dead at the scene. Police said there was no criminality involved.
Last alive on Allen St.
Police are still seeking information about the homicide last year of a Brooklyn woman, Chao Ru Zie, 37, last seen alive at 8 p.m. July 1, 2009 in Manhattan at 103 Allen St. between Stanton and Rivington Sts. after she left work. Her husband reported her missing the following day and on July 6 her body was found in the rear seat of her 2008 Lexus SUV in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. She had been killed by a blow to the head with a blunt instrument. Her husband told police that someone had used the victim’s cell phone to call her sister, 21, in China demanding $50,000 to ransom the victim
Information should be phoned to Crime Stoppers, 800:577-TIPS (8477) or by logging on to www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting tips to 274637 (Crimes) and entering TIP577. All calls are confidential.
A Battery Park City woman, 31, told police she locked her bicycle, valued at $800, to a rack in the Hudson River Park at the southwest corner of W. 26th St. and the West Side Highway around 2 p.m. Sat., Aug. 4 and returned an hour and a half later to find it had been stolen.
— Albert Amateau