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A lawyer who operated one of the nation's largest immigration asylum firms and seven others were charged Wednesday with racketeering for helping smugglers of Chinese aliens sneak scores of them into the country.

The Manhattan law firm operated by Robert Porges, 61, and his wife, Sheery Lu Porges, 47, earned more than $13 million illicitly over the last seven years as it forged a relationship with Chinese smugglers, federal prosecutors alleged.

When aliens were captured by U.S. authorities, the law firm built a tower of lies for each alien to qualify them for asylum, authorities said.

Once the firm managed to win freedom for the aliens, it delivered them into the hands of ruthless smugglers who held them captive until the smuggling fee was paid up, prosecutors said.

The fraud may have changed the outcome of as many as 7,000 asylum cases, authorities said.

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