ROCKLEDGE, Fla. – Police, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Homeland Security have accused a 36-year-old Orlando man of preying on immigrants by posing as an immigration attorney and telling them he could help them become U.S. citizens.
Police said Jean Eustache was operating as an attorney in Orlando, Palm Bay and Rockledge but wasn't licensed.
"They're coming to this guy hoping to become an American citizen and they're trying to better themselves and for somebody to take advantage of them, that's very disheartening," Rockledge police officer Steven Tagye said.
Police said a Rockledge client came forward in August, concerned Eustache might not be operating legitimately.
A neighboring business said since authorities searched the Cogswell Street office Friday, no employees have returned.
"The business has changed quite a few times from immigration help to a learning, driving school," Amy Grove of Bear Hugs Child Care said. "Just a couple of weeks ago, it came up tax preparation," she recalled.
Police said Eustache was arrested Friday at his office in Palm Bay.
At the Lipscomb Street location, a woman who said she's another of Eustache's victims claimed he took $4,000 from her and never provided service.
Calvin Mack Jr., on the other hand, said he went to Eustache to do his taxes and he did get what he paid for.
Mack said he's disappointed to learn how police said Eustache was conducting business with other clients.
"It's a shame you go to people for help and they do you like that, take advantage of you," Mack said.
Eustache posted his $36,000 bond before his first court appearance Saturday at the Brevard County Jail.
Investigators issued a warning for anyone hiring an immigration attorney.
"Definitely do their research and their homework to try and figure out who they're working with," Tagye said.
Authorities said the allegations against Eustache remain under investigation.