Man accused in immigration fake out has lengthy criminal history

Posted at 11:39 PM, Oct 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-16 23:48:26-04

In the wake of a 7 Action News investigation, the Wayne County Prosecutor has charged a local man with a felony which could put him behind bars for 15 years.

When a Livonia father hired Joseph Tyler Liebman to do immigration work for him, he had no idea that Liebman was a convicted felon.

The 7 Investigators have dug even further into Liebman’s past and learned that whether it’s posing as a law enforcement officer or sex offenses, he‘s no stranger to police.

“Joseph, why’d you take all that money from him,” 7 Investigator Heather Catallo asked Liebman as he left the Westland Police Department jail last week after bonding out.

“My client has no comment at this time,” said James Makowski, Liebman’s attorney.

The Wayne County Prosecutor charged Liebman, 32, with felony false pretenses.

As the 7 Investigators first reported last month, John Kotronis says he has receipts that show he gave Liebman and his alleged company, Michigan Immigration Services, more than $60,000 in order to bring his fiancé and her two children to the U.S. from the Philippines.

Liebman even gave Kotronis a video receipt for part of the cash.

“My name is Joseph Liebman, this is John Kotronis… April 30th, he’s given me a total of $14,000 cash in a secured bag brought to take care of all his immigration services and transfer of paperwork. This will serve as a receipt,” said Liebman into a cell phone video camera earlier this year.

But Kotronis says he found out that no visa applications were ever filed with U.S. Customs and Immigration Services.

“He took everything from me,” Kotronis said.

Liebman’s attorney disagrees.

“I think the current charges are unfounded,” Makowski said.

“But there was no record with Immigration (USCIS) that anything was ever done, so your client did no work for the money,” Catallo said.

“He did do work for the money, he did everything leading up to filing for the immigration,” Makowski said.

This isn’t the first time Westland police have investigated Liebman for allegedly taking money for so-called immigration work. Police reports and court records from 2017 show another man told detectives that “Liebman identified himself as an attorney and fugitive hunter officer.”

The man also told police he gave “Liebman $1,100 cash for legal services” to help a family member seek asylum in the U.S.

When Westland police arrested him for that in 2017, they found police lights in Liebman’s car and he was wearing a shirt with a badge on it.

That case got dismissed, but Liebman is also facing new charges in Lenawee County for unlawfully wearing law enforcement insignia last month.

Liebman is a convicted sex offender with a criminal history in several states: Alabama, Connecticut, and Michigan.

He’s been found guilty of criminal impersonation in the past and the 7 Investigators uncovered records from a 2007 Connecticut case that show Liebman told a young woman with special needs that he worked for an advocacy group.

But instead of helping her, police reports show he handcuffed her inside a hotel and sexually assaulted her. The police reports also show that Liebman told the woman’s mother he was a federal agent.

“Why is your client continuing to represent himself as a law enforcement officer,” Catallo asked.

“He is not representing himself as a law enforcement officer at all. Period. He has done work in bail bonds and he has done work in fugitive recovery,” Makowski said.

But because Joseph Liebman is a convicted felon, state officials say he likely would not qualify to work as a bail bondsman. State officials confirm neither Liebman nor his alleged company, United States Bail and Fugitive Enforcement Agency, are licensed in Michigan for surety bond work. That company is also not on record with the state’s bureau of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Makowski also told the 7 Investigators that because Kotronis signed a waiver, he believes Liebman is released from liability.

The Wayne Country Prosecutor’s case is moving forward with a hearing scheduled for Thursday.

Liebman faces 15 years behind bars if he’s convicted of the new false pretenses charges.

The Michigan Department of Corrections is now also charging him with probation violations.

If you have a story for Heather please email her at or call 248-827-4473.