Fugitive To Face Sentencing After 20 Years
OAKLAND – Voni Chen appeared in federal court today for the first time since becoming a fugitive in 2002 when she failed to appear at her sentencing hearing, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp.
Voni Chen, 57, of Taiwan, and her father Richard Chen, 87, were charged in the same indictment in August 2000 with multiple counts of mail fraud. Each pleaded guilty to mail fraud on October 26, 2001, before U.S. District Judge D. Lowell Jensen. They both failed to appear as ordered on May 3, 2002, for their sentencing hearings, and U.S. District Judge Jensen issued bench warrants for their arrests. Twenty years later, Singaporean authorities alerted US authorities that they had located the Chens in Singapore, and based on a US provisional arrest request, Singaporean authorities arrested them. Following the Chens’ consent to their extradition to the United States, the Singapore Minister for Law ordered both to be extradited. Voni Chen was transported yesterday and made an initial appearance today in federal court in Oakland before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu. Richard Chen is awaiting transportation.
According to the nearly identical plea agreements each entered into on October 26, 2001, Richard Chen was a principal and Voni Chen was the president of Golden Pacific Manufacturing Corporation, Inc. (Golden Pacific), and together they managed the company. Among other things, Golden Pacific manufactured and sold plastic bags. The company started to experience cash flow problems, and Richard and Voni Chen, along with a third party, began a scheme to defraud the credit company that financed Golden Pacific’s accounts receivables. The scheme initially involved Golden Pacific sending invoices to the credit company that reflected orders from Golden Pacific that its customers had never made. Once the credit company received the false invoices, it loaned funds to Golden Pacific as required in their financing agreement.
The plea agreements of both Richard Chen and Voni Chen describe that to increase the number of false invoices, Golden Pacific asked other companies to act as customers of Golden Pacific even though those companies never bought merchandise from Golden Pacific. In addition, Richard Chen and Voni Chen asked their existing customers to represent they purchased more goods from Golden Pacific than they had actually ordered. Richard Chen and Voni Chen also created shell corporations to act as fake customers of Golden Pacific. The false invoices from all of these sources were submitted to the credit company to obtain loaned funds. Eventually, the credit company agreed to loan Golden Pacific more than $5 million, largely secured by the fictitious receivables created from sham transactions.
Assistant United States Attorney Robert Rees is prosecuting the case, with the assistance of Leeya Kekona. The prosecution was a result of an investigation by the FBI.
The extradition was handled by the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.
The U.S. Justice Department, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, thanks the Singapore Police Force and Attorney General’s Chambers for its cooperation with the United States.