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Phillip Asher figured the path to becoming a lawyer was too steep, so he just did business without a license.
He wasn't very good at the law, but he was pretty good at collections. He raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars before authorities caught up with him.
His big mistake -- besides practicing law without a license -- was extorting money from a party to settle a case. Everybody knows only licensed lawyers can do that.
The Chinese Restaurant
It wasn't the first time somebody impersonated a lawyer. Why people want to look like attorneys, who knows.
Asher, who also went by the name Phillip Reynolds, had plied people for money across the United States. His scam started to fall apart when he went abroad.
He tried to con a Columbian who had a Chinese restaurant in Columbia.
According to court records, Asher told the restaurant owner he would sue and have a family member deported if he didn't pay $300,000. But the owner apparently figured out he wasn't a real lawyer because Asher used to work for him.
Sting at the Bank
The restaurateur told the FBI, and agents set up a sting at the bank. One attempted bank withdrawal later, Asher was headed to jail.
He pleaded guilty to wire fraud, which carries a potential 20 years in prison. Plus, he'll have to pay a $250,000 fine -- probably because that's all he could get in the restaurant deal.
Authorities didn't bust him so much for pretending to be a bad lawyer. Though, that might just be a ploy to see if he'll try to represent himself and make the prosecutor's job easier.