By David Brand
A once-influential TV personality who was jailed for ripping off South Asian immigrants in a mortgage fraud and identity theft scheme has started a new endeavor: immigrant legal service provider.
Jacob Milton, who hosted a TV show geared toward Queens’ Bangladeshi community, and his sister Nira Niru operate International Legal Services LLC, a legal services provider that conducts free consultations and connects clients with attorneys specializing in immigration, civil and criminal law, according to the company website.
Milton pleaded guilty to grand larceny in 2008 after using his influence in the Bangladeshi community and position as a mortgage broker at the Jackson Heights firm Griffin Mortgage to steal clients’ identities, apply for mortgages worth more than $1 million and rack up credit card bills totaling more than $15,700 in the victims’ names.
“In four instances, the victims declined to proceed with their applications, stating they were too expensive,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown after Milton was first arraigned in October 2017. “Little did they suspect how much money their trip to the mortgage company would actually cost them.”
Milton was also charged with additional counts of identity theft and spent more than three years in prison.
Niru, his sister, worked as his secretary at Griffin Mortgage and was also charged in the fraud and identity theft scheme.
Milton insists that he and his sister were wrongfully accused and convicted, however. The Second Department overturned his conviction and sent the case back to state Supreme Court, but the Court of Appeals reinstated it. Milton continues to fight the charges.
“There is a humongous amount of evidence that there is no crime and that the accusers lied,” he told the Eagle. “There is hardcore evidence that no crime occurred and I didn’t do anything wrong.”
The Legal Networking International website lists Milton as principal and CEO and Niru as company social worker and includes flattering bios of the siblings, along with additional directors.
“Jacob Milton is a firm believer in equal rights for all,” the company website reads. “He is a community activist and a driving force for civil rights. His background gives him a unique perspective into civil rights, ensuring morality doesn’t lose meaning in a courtroom.”
“Niru Nira has dedicated herself to helping others. Her selflessness epitomizes what it means to put others before herself,” the site continues.
Milton said Legal Networking International represents 79 lawyers and performs “sales and marketing” on their behalf by creating and circulating ads in print and at seminars. He does not charge a commission for connecting lawyers with clients, he said.
“I cannot charge a commission to the attorneys,” he said. “Attorneys cannot share their fees with a non attorneys.”
“I’m introducing [attorneys] to the community and any clients looking for an attorney,” he continued. “I set it up to help the community. I'm not thinking I’m going to make a good amount of money. I was in legal trouble for no reason and I was not getting good help and I wasn’t getting good attorneys.”
The company’s Facebook page, which has received nearly 9,700 likes since its first post in March 2016, promises to help the immigrant community.
“We are very much aware of Political turmoil and mistreatment of the members of opposition parties. Currently, We are processing dozens of cases. Most of our asylum cases granted at first interview,” Legal Networking International LLC writes on its Facebook page.
“Whether you are Landlord or Tenant, We will protect your right [sic],” the page continues. “Do not go to an Attorney who want [sic] to get paid but become softy [sic] in front of other Attorneys and Judges.”