Crime & Courts

Man charged clients thousands in legal fees — but he isn’t a lawyer, SC cops say

Michel V. Diago was charged with practicing law without a license.
Michel V. Diago was charged with practicing law without a license. Laurens County Detention Center

A man who pretended to be a lawyer, and charged clients nearly $100,000 in legal fees, was arrested on multiple charges Tuesday, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or SLED.

Although he does not have a license to practice law, Michel V. Diago provided legal services from June 2014 to October 2017, according to arrest warrants.

The 76-year-old Laurens man charged more than $81,000 for the work, SLED said in a news release.

Diago was supposedly using the money to help with adoption and naturalization process for his client, but instead spent the $81,392 on himself, according to an arrest warrant.

Diago is not a member of the South Carolina Bar, and did not have authorization to practice law from the Supreme Court of South Carolina, an arrest warrant shows.

After the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office asked SLED to investigate, Diago was arrested.

He was taken to the Laurens County Detention Center where he was charged with practice of law without a license, and breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value $10,000 or more, jail records show.

No bond has been set for Diago, according to the jail.

Madison County Public Defender John Rekowski fired an assistant public defender because she is not an attorney. Kelcie Miller, of Edwardsville, worked in the office from October 2018 until May 2019.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.