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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 19, 2017

Owners Of South Bay Business Charged With Visa Fraud Conspiracy And Related Crimes

SAN JOSE – Jennifer Yang and her business partner Daniel Wu were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and a number of related crimes in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain immigration benefits through the government’s “EB-5” visa program, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch; U.S. State Department, Diplomatic Security Service, San Francisco Field Office Special Agent in Charge Matthew Perlman; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin.  The superseding indictment alleges that Yang and Wu submitted to the government fraudulent documents that claimed applicants were creating new commercial enterprises when, in fact, the documents contained information about fake jobs and bogus investments.  

The charges are set out in a superseding indictment filed October 12, 2017.  As described in the superseding indictment, the EB-5 visa program is administered by the U.S. government through both the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security.  The program enables foreigners and their immediate family members to obtain a path to Legal Permanent Residency (“LPR”) in the United States by investing in a commercial enterprise.  The investment must amount to $1,000,000—or $500,000 if made in certain geographical areas with low employment rates.  An applicant may be able to obtain full LPR status after two years, if the commercial enterprise complies with certain regulations, including the requirement to create 10 or more jobs.    

According to the superseding indictment, Yang, 50, of Palo Alto, is a licensed member of Bar of the District of Columbia.  She held herself out as a legal specialist for persons interested in applying for EB-5 visa benefits.  Since 2007 and until 2016, the defendants filed EB-5 visa petitions for at least seven foreign investors who supplied Yang and Wu, 54, of Las Vegas, with at least four-million dollars for the stated purpose of investment into a commercial enterprise.  Nevertheless, instead of making legitimate investments that created real jobs, the superseding indictment alleges the defendants created and submitted fraudulent records to deceive the government into issuing benefits on the basis of fake employees.  In at least some cases, the information about the bogus employees was created using the personal identifying information of third-parties, without the third-party individuals’ knowledge.  Further, the superseding indictment alleges the defendants created documents that misstated the true manner in which the investment monies were used, which in some cases was not for the new enterprises, but instead for the personal benefit of defendants. In this way, the superseding indictment alleges, defendants obtained benefits for clients based on jobs and businesses that did not, in fact, exist.  

Yang and Wu both are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit visa fraud, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft, all in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; three counts of visa fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a); two counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341; and two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A.  In addition, Yang is charged with two counts of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957. 

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants, including Yang and Wu, are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If convicted, the defendants face the following maximum sentences:
 

DEFENDANT

STATUTE

CHARGE

MAXIMUM PENALTY

Yang and Wu

 

18 U.S.C. § 371

 

Conspiracy to Commit Visa Fraud, Mail Fraud, Aggravated Identity Theft, and to Defraud the United States

Maximum term of imprisonment: 5 years

Maximum fine: $250,000

Maximum term of supervised release: 3 years

Restitution

Forfeiture

 

Yang and Wu

 

18 U.S.C. § 1546(a)

Visa Fraud

Maximum term of imprisonment: 10 years

Maximum fine: $250,000

Maximum term of supervised release: 3 years

Restitution

Forfeiture

Yang and Wu

18 U.S.C. § 1341

Mail Fraud

Maximum term of imprisonment: 20 years

Maximum fine: $250,000 Maximum term of supervised release: 3 years

Restitution

Forfeiture

Yang and Wu

 

18 U.S.C. § 1028A

 

Aggravated Identity Theft

Maximum term of imprisonment: 2 years (to run consecutive to any other underlying felony)

Maximum fine: $250,000

Maximum term of supervised release: 3 years

Yang

18 U.S.C. 1957

Money Laundering

Maximun prison sentence: 10 years

Maximum fine: $500,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater

Maximum term of supervised release: 3 years

Restitution

 

Both defendants made an initial appearance today before the Honorable Nathanael Cousins, United States Magistrate Judge, and pleaded not guilty to the charges.  The defendants were released, each on a $500,000 bond.  A hearing for review of the bond conditions was scheduled for November 1, 2017, at 1:30 pm before the Honorable Howard R. Lloyd, U.S. Magistrate Judge.  In addition, a hearing before U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh is scheduled for December 20, 2017.  

Assistant United States Attorney Timothy J. Lucey is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Laurie Worthen.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation led by the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service’s representative to the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), overseen by the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations. The DBFTF is a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations into fraudulent immigration documents. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Office of Fraud Detection and National Security also assisted with the investigation.
 

Updated October 19, 2017