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Immigration lawyer Paul Hesse disbarred after Manitoba Law Society finds he stole millions from clients

The Manitoba Law Society has disbarred Paul Hesse, stating the disgraced immigration lawyer lost over $6 million of his clients’ money through a series of schemes that saw them invest in fake or shell companies under the promise it would help them immigrate to Canada. 

Hesse had been under investigation by the law society since July 2019, when several of his former clients came forward to CBC and other media outlets, claiming he had bilked them out of their life savings.

The decision says that over a three-year period, beginning in 2016, Hesse lied to 27 different clients, almost all would-be immigrants, making false promises that cost them thousands of dollars.

“He lied, he stole, he acted in his own self-interest, he gave wrong advice and he abused his position to get his clients to lend him millions of dollars, most of which he never repaid,” the Sept. 16 law society decision says.

“Most of the 27 clients also had their hopes of immigrating to Canada thwarted.”

Last year, one client told CBC he was out $200,000 and his permanent residency application was left in limbo after transferring Hesse money to invest in a company, in order to get a work permit. The permit never materialized and Hesse told him the money was gone. 

The Law Society found Hesse guilty of 29 counts of professional misconduct through these schemes that included:

  • Advising clients to invest money in a business without disclosing his personal relationship to its owner.
  • Putting clients’ money into investments without authorization.
  • Lying to clients about their immigration status so he wouldn’t have to pay back money.
  • Advising clients to invest in shell companies.
  • Lying to clients so they would lend him money.
  • Telling clients investments would qualify them for immigration, when they were in fact “sham investments.”

“In the end, Mr. Hesse stole $3.5 million from clients and fraudulently obtained more than $3 million through lies and deceit,” said the decision.

“Most of the clients he wronged were vulnerable in that they would not have had English as their first language and they may not have had a good understanding of the Canadian legal system.”

Pitblado lawyer ‘appalled’ by actions

At the time of the misconduct, Hesse, who was also once the president of the Manitoba Liberal Party, was a partner at the Winnipeg firm Pitblado Law.

The firm and its managing partner, Benjamin Hecht, terminated Hesse’s employment on June 7, 2019, after learning about the allegations.

Hesse currently faces several civil lawsuits from his former clients, including a proposed class action against Hesse and Pitblado filed in August. 

‘We hope the law society’s decision is seen as an important step towards holding Mr. Hesse accountable,’ says Benjamin Hecht, a managing partner at Pitblado Law. (Submitted by Pitblado Law )

Hesse did not return a request for comment.

He also did not respond to any notices or correspondences by the law society, which under Court of Queen’s Bench rules is deemed an admission to the facts laid

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Nearly 85,000 Inmates Entitled to Stimulus Checks; Judge Finds Exclusion Is ‘Likely Contrary to Law’

After the Internal Revenue Service deemed incarcerated individuals ineligible for a stimulus check, a judge found the agency was most likely doing so against the law and ruled it must reissue payments that were previously denied or forcibly returned.

text, letter: President Donald Trump's name appears on the coronavirus economic assistance checks that were sent to citizens across the country April 29 in Washington, D.C. On September 24, a judge ruled that incarcerated individuals otherwise eligible for a payment cannot have their payments withheld.

© Chip Somodevilla/Getty
President Donald Trump’s name appears on the coronavirus economic assistance checks that were sent to citizens across the country April 29 in Washington, D.C. On September 24, a judge ruled that incarcerated individuals otherwise eligible for a payment cannot have their payments withheld.

Nearly 85,000 incarcerated individuals received payments worth $100 million, according to a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). After issuing the payments, the IRS instructed anyone who received them to either repay the direct deposit or return the voided check, as they were made in error. But the federal judge ruled on September 24 that incarceration status doesn’t disqualify a person from receiving a stimulus check.


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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed unanimously in Congress and was signed into law in March, provided for $1,200 payments to individuals and $2,400 to joint filers. Aside from the income threshold, the CARES Act identified an “eligible individual” as anyone other than a “nonresident alien individual,” a person who is claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return, or a trust or estate.

“Incarcerated persons who otherwise qualify for an advance refund are not excluded as an ‘eligible individual,'” U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton wrote in her ruling. “The IRS’s decision to exclude incarcerated persons from advance refund payments is likely contrary to law.”

Hamilton’s ruling came about three months after a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Colin Scholl and Lisa Strawn challenging the IRS’ decision to deem incarcerated individuals ineligible for payments. In it, they requested class status for those who were incarcerated from March 27 and an injunction requiring the IRS to automatically issue payments to those incarcerated people who are eligible. Along with the injunction, Hamilton also granted the plaintiffs’ the class status.

HEROES vs. HEALS Act: How Stimulus Packages Differ Ahead Of Second Coronavirus Relief Aid



This isn’t the first time the issue of whether incarcerated individuals qualify for a stimulus check has arisen. In 2009, stimulus checks worth $250 were sent to some incarcerated individuals as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Of the 3,900 incarcerated individuals who received payments, 2,200 of them got to keep their checks because the law contained language allowing them to, the Associated Press reported at the time.

Under ARRA, people receiving certain federal benefits were eligible for a payment if they received the benefit within the three months before the package’s enactment. While incarcerated people are generally ineligible for federal benefits, if a person wasn’t incarcerated in the three months before the package’s enactment, he or she would have still been eligible for a stimulus check, Mark Lassiter, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration,

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Harvard poll finds Americans receptive to law-and-order message

Voters want to see immigrants with criminal records deported, want to see rioters and looters arrested and prosecuted, and want to see stiffer border security, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris poll that suggests there’s ample room for President Trump to sell his law-and-order message — if he can break through questions about his character.

More than two-thirds hold a favorable opinion of police, compared to 51% for the Black Lives Matter movement. Antifa, the left-wing “ant-fascist” movement, has just 14% approval.

Voters also expect a second wave of coronavirus cases, but most still want their states to try to remain open anyway, rather than return to the crippling lockdowns of the spring, the poll found.

“Trump wins the issue vote, Biden wins on character,” the pollsters said, summing up the results of the survey of 1,314 registered voters, taken Sept. 22-24.

On the border, 72% said it needs to be tightened, versus just 28% who want it loosened. And 73% say illegal immigrants who commit crimes should be deported, versus 27% who think they should stay.

Four in five voters say those committing mayhem during protests should face arrest and prosecution, while 20% want they “released without much penalty.”

And just 18% think taxes should be raised, compared to 40% who want them lowered.

Overall, the mood of the country is improving. Most still think the U.S. is on the wrong track, but the gap is narrowing, as is pessimism over the economy.

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden is winning the head-to-head match-up with Mr. Trump, 47-45, among likely voters, and holds a lead among the 9% undecided, too.

A larger share of Biden backers, though, are voting against Mr. Trump, rather than enthused about Mr. Biden.

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