Dilworth Paxson partner, James Rodgers appeared in a news story on WWL-TV in New Orleans, LA
January 31, 2013 – Dilworth Paxson partner, James Rodgers appeared in a news story on WWL-TV in New Orleans, LA regarding the New Orleans visa program with ties to the city’s Mayor Ray Nagin and the suspected fraud surrounding the program.
Rodgers was interviewed about his representation of foreign investors who are now suing in federal court. The case surrounds a little-known federal immigration program, the EB-5 Visa program, whereby foreign investors who give at least $500,000 to designated investment centers — in this case New Orleans — get visas to live and work in the U.S.
In 2006, New Orleans Mayor Nagin signed an exclusive 30-year deal with Maryland businessmen William “Bart” Hungerford Jr. and Timothy Milbrath to run the city’s EB-5 operation. Hungerford and Milbrath recruited 31 investors and collected $15.5 million for a pooled investment fund. The deal was that if ten New Orleanians get jobs after two years, the investor gets a green card.
The plaintiffs allege that the defendants formed 30 investment companies to make it hard to follow the trail of investors’ cash, and that most of the money went into Hungerford and Milbrath’s pockets. Of the handful of projects have been successful and created jobs, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service is not counting those jobs toward the number that must be created for the investors to get green cards, and some investors now face deportation.
“This entire episode has been extremely wrenching for them,” said lead plaintiff attorney Rodgers. “They have put out their money, they’ve put out their time. They played by the rules and now they face complete loss of their effort after having been invited in to help make an investment to improve things in the city of New Orleans. And as it turns out, everybody seems to be losers in this.”
The Dilworth Paxson team led by Rodgers includes Robert Cornish, Rana Jazayerli, and Mark Wachlin.