News and Press Releases

Leader of Hope Korean Church Convicted of Seeking Visas for Imposter Religious Workers

June 5, 2006

DONG WAN PARK, 52, of Tacoma, Washington, was found guilty Friday of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, three counts of Visa Fraud, and one count of Obstruction of Justice. PARK is the pastor of the Hope Korean Church in Tacoma. According to testimony at trial, PARK took tens of thousands of dollars from Korean nationals to file fraudulent visa applications claiming they were coming to the United States to serve as religious workers at his church. U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton found PARK guilty following a five day bench trial.

PARK was indicted November 16, 2005. According to records filed in the case, PARK advertised in a Korean language newspaper that immigration visas were available through his church. In exchange for as much as $30,000, PARK provided the visa paperwork including phoney transcripts from a Korean Seminary and a certificate of ordination from a Korean Bishop. PARK signed the petitions representing that the applicants were to be associate pastors at the Hope Korean Church and would be paid $24,000 per year. In fact none of the applicants were ever employed at the church or had any religious training.

After the scheme started to unravel, PARK attempted to get the applicants to change their story and mislead investigators. In one instance, PARK was recorded telling one applicant to insist to investigators that the documents filed with the visa applications were legitimate and to hide from investigators all evidence of any payment to PARK. During trial, PARK claimed that monies received from the recipients were either loans or donations to the church. In fact PARK used the money for his own purposes, often withdrawing it at tribal casinos in Pierce County.

The charges against Park arose from an earlier investigation into a fraud scheme allegedly headed by a man named Jung Kim, who is accused of luring Korean investors to the United States under the guise of receiving highly profitable janitorial franchises along with lawful immigration status. Jung Kim will be sentenced June 24, 2006, after pleading guilty to Wire Fraud and Visa Fraud.

PARK will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton on October 13, 2006 at 9:30 AM.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Katheryn Kim Frierson and David Reese Jennings.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the Untied States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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