Even though Waldo De Castroverde died more than two years ago, he is still as present as ever at De Castroverde Law Group, his Las Vegas firm. His two former colleagues make sure of that because they’re his sons.
De Castroverde smiles down from dozens of photos in their main conference room, and Alex and Orlando De Castroverde frequently ask, “What would Dad do?” not only to themselves but to the staff members who worked alongside the late immigration attorney since he began his Las Vegas practice in 1993.
“His presence is always felt,” said Orlando De Castroverde, the younger son by two years. “He started something great and we’re continuing on with it. It’s only been two years, but I think 10 years from now, he’ll still be very much a part of the firm.”
He was one of the Cuban paratroopers who fought Fidel Castro’s army in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion on April 17, 1961. “They thought maybe they would die, but as a cause, never a moment went by when they didn’t think they would succeed in their attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro, so it was a good experience,” Alex De Castroverde said.
After his capture, De Castroverde was nominated by his fellow paratroopers to be among the representatives sent to Washington. D.C., to negotiate their release with the Kennedy Administration. That’s because, despite his young age, the 20-year-old publicly confronted Castro when the dictator marched his captors into an arena to lecture them in front of the public.
“My dad confronted Fidel and started explaining the reasons they did what they did,” Alex De Castroverde said, “how he was seizing the press and executing radio personalities that spoke against him. And they saw how courageous he was. He was a prisoner of war and he had stood up.”
After his release, De Castroverde lived in Miami, where he participated in anti-Castro events and met and married his wife, Vivian, who came to the U.S. under Operation Peter Pan, which relocated more than 14,000 Cuban children to America. The family moved to Reno in 1978, after a fellow former prisoner landed a job as an MGM Grand casino manager. He offered Waldo and Vivian De Castroverde jobs dealing blackjack.
When their friend lost his job, throwing their job security into doubt, a law school opened near their home that was run by a Catholic Church. Waldo De Castroverde had always dreamed of following in the footsteps of his own father, a prominent Havana attorney who died when he was just 7 years old. But the opportunity just never presented itself.
“It was a night program,” said Alex De Castroverde. “So he was dealing 21 in the daytime and going to law school at night, with four kids.”
In 1990, their father became one of Nevada’s first Spanish-speaking attorneys and the first to be born in Cuba. His firm began with one lawyer and one secretary, his daughter, Ana, and his two sons answering phones and filing documents during their summers off from college. The sons joined the firm as partners in 2005 after the elder De Castroverde relocated it to Las Vegas, and the firm has grown to a staff of 50 with locations on Maryland Parkway and in Tivoli Village.
“What’s really special is we have past clients all the time, new clients for me and Orlando, but people who say, ‘Your dad helped my family, he got them immigration papers,'" said Alex De Castroverde, choking too hard on the sentence to complete it. His father, who had heart problems, was hospitalized with a wound infection on his 49th wedding anniversary. His sons tried coaxing him to make it to his 50th, but he died in the hospital.
Their father's specialty was immigration, which his sons continue, adding criminal defense and personal injury to the mix.
“We have a passion for the law,” said Alex De Castroverde. “It might sound cliché, but I think it’s in our blood.”