Michael Wyman, a disbarred attorney accused of taking money from clients without providing immigration services they paid for, told authorities when he was arrested that he shut down his Hilton Head Island business because he couldn't find funding for it.
Wyman's statement, released Friday by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office ICE Task Force, said he tried unsuccessfully to get funding for Immigrant Angels, Inc. from Catholic dioceses on the island, in Charleston and in Atlanta.
Immigrant Angels Inc. closed in September, and Wyman's clients began to call authorities. According to the Sheriff's Office, Wyman's former clients said they paid him between $75 and $2,090 for assistance filing immigration documents but later discovered their paperwork had never been filed with the Department of Homeland Security.
Wyman, who is facing 10 charges of breach of trust with fraudulent intent, was arrested Sept. 25. He remains in the Beaufort County Detention Center on a $21,300 bond. Investigators are sifting through hundreds of files tyring to find more victims but no further charges have been filed, according to the Sheriff's Office.
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Before opening Immigrant Angels, Wyman was an office manager at Lowcountry Immigration Services, according to the Catholic Diocese of Charleston. The independent agency was subsidized in part by St. Francis By the Sea Catholic Church and operated in the same building where Wyman later opened his own immigration business.
In his statement to authorities, Wyman said he was "released from his duties" at Lowcountry Immigration Services, but an agreement allowed him to continue working on his case load. That's when he opened Immigrant Angels, the statement said.
In March, Catholic Charities opened an office to replace Lowcountry Immigration Services as Wyman started his own business downstairs.
The diocese has also said that Wyman "showed up at the Chancery office in Charleston unannounced" in August and demanded $60,000. He was refused.
Wyman has been accused of fraud before. He was disbarred in 2002 and sentenced to at least a year in jail for embezzling nearly $700,000 from a local couple during a real estate deal.
The charges are pending in Bluffton Magistrate Court.