Our Staff

Sharon Ames, Esq. is the Immigration Law Director for the recently created Region 2 Regional Immigration Assistance Center, based in Rome, New York. The RIAC2 provides legal, technical and language access support to both criminal defense and family court practitioners concerning the immigration consequences of any plea bargain or family court disposition for noncitizen clients who qualify for assigned counsel or public defender services. The RIAC also provides free trainings to both attorneys and the judiciary. Region 2 covers sixteen counties in the 5th and 6th judicial districts.

Ms. Ames is a graduate of Syracuse University College of Law and St. Lawrence University, where she majored in Government and Spanish. She is the sole member of Ames Immigration Law, PLLC, and has had her own law practice in Syracuse since 1984, where she practiced in the areas of criminal defense both in private practice and as an Assistant Public Defender in Cortland County; and in family law, both as assigned counsel and as a Law Guardian.

Sharon has practiced exclusively in Immigration Law since 1999 and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). In the area of Immigration, her practice has centered on “crimmigration,” family- based immigration, citizenship, and Special Immigrant Juveniles. She recently served as Attorney for the Child for six years in Family Court on behalf of unaccompanied minor refugee (URM) children placed with the Onondaga County Division of Child and Family Services.

She is a participating attorney in the Onondaga County Volunteer Lawyers Project for Immigration and the Vera House Monday Night Legal Clinic.

Sharon is fluent in Spanish.


Tina Hartwell, Esq. is the Criminal Defense Director of the Regional Immigration Assistance Center for Region 2.  As a First Assistant Public Defender with the Oneida County Public Defender’s Office – Criminal Division, Tina has worked in the City Courts Section, Major Crimes Section, and Specialty Courts Section exclusively as a criminal defense attorney. She started at the RIAC in May 2017.

Ms. Hartwell has been with the Public Defender’s Office since 2001. She graduated from Syracuse University in 1991 with a dual degree in Political Science and Speech Communication, and in 1993, she received a Master’s Degree in Speech Communication. Tina attended law school at Albany Law School and was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2001.

She is a member of the New York State Defender’s Association, the Women’s Bar Association: Mid-York Chapter, the New York State Bar Association, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.