RICHMOND, Va. - A Virginia-based company is accused of preying on immigrants in federal detention centers, even threatening to have them deported if they did not pay up.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and the Attorneys General of New York and Massachusetts are suing Libre by Nexus, a company based in Verona in Augusta County. The lawsuit claims the company offered to pay bonds for immigrants held in federal detention centers, in exchange for them signing misleading contracts that hid tens of thousands of dollars in extra fees.
"They exploit these individuals who are in a vulnerable position and force them into confusing and misleading contracts, often times in a language they do not even speak or understand, and then threaten to go after their friends and families if they don't comply or pay incredibly high fees," Herring said in a telephone call with News 3 This Morning anchor Blaine Stewart.
According to a news release, the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, alleges the defendants have violated and continue to violate several laws, including the Dodd‐Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s prohibition on deceptive and abusive acts and practices, as well as the states’ consumer protection laws.
The suit also accuses Libre of forcing its clients to wear bulky GPS devices that could not be removed, even if they caused injury.
Herring told reporters Monday his office has been investigating the company since 2017.
"Today’s lawsuit is the culmination of years of hard work my team and I have put into stopping Libre by Nexus’ egregious exploitation of immigrants in Virginia and around the country," Herring added.
News 3 left a voicemail for Libre by Nexus for further comment and heard back via email around 2:30 p.m. This is what the company said:
"Libre by Nexus categorically denies all allegations in the complaint filed against the company today and looks forward to our day in court. Libre commits to continuing to service its amazing family of clients.
Libre by Nexus is committed to fighting for immigrants scarred by the torture of “civil” immigration detention. While we have fought to release tens of thousands of immigrants from detention, especially during the last four years, the AGs have taken time and money to investigate our company. These same AGs have defended their police and prison guards in abuse cases, some of which have been funded by Libre. The result of their years-long investigations is a poorly drafted complaint that rehashes allegations the company has successfully defended in three different legal actions. They are still defending the corrupt prison guards.
At the same time the same immigrants Libre fights to save are housed in detention centers in the states of NY, VA, and MA, and at the orders of the same branch of government that commands the CFPB. While the federal government continues to detain scores of immigrants, the AGs have ignored the fact that these detention centers operate within their own borders. From Buffalo to Farmville to Suffolk MA, immigrants are tortured while Herring, James and others conduct a shadowy investigation into the only company helping the immigrants they claim to be protecting. Libre by Nexus welcomes this action as finally these inquiries can be brought out of the shadows and into one courtroom. When Libre funded lawsuits against Virginia to insure prisoners' rights were protected, and the AG defended the state's conduct, we prevailed. When Libre funded lawsuits in NY to end the scourge of youth solitary confinement and the AG defended the state's conduct, we prevailed.
Libre is proud of its work and believes sunlight is the best disinfectant. We plan to vigorously defend this suit and prevail at trial."