President Of East Bay University Convicted In Fraud Scheme
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, a federal jury convicted Susan Xiao-Ping Su of wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy to commit visa fraud, visa fraud, use of a false document, false statements to a government agency, alien harboring, unauthorized access to a government computer, and money laundering, announced United States Attorney Melinda and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas S. Winkowski.
The jury found Su guilty of 31 counts all arising from Su’s visa fraud scheme, which she carried out in her role as the Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and President of Pleasanton-based Tri-Valley University, described as “a Christian higher education institution.” The guilty verdict followed a three-week jury trial before the Honorable Jon S. Tigar, United States District Court Judge.
Evidence at trial showed that Su, 43, of Pleasanton, engaged in a two-year scheme to defraud the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by submitting fraudulent documents in support of Tri-Valley University’s petition for approval to admit foreign students and, after having obtained such approval, fraudulently issued visa-related documents to student aliens in exchange for “tuition and fees.” In her petition for approval, Su made material false representations to DHS regarding Tri-Valley University’s admission requirements, graduation requirements, administrators, instructors, class transferability, and intent to comply with federal regulations.
Three purported Tri-Valley University professors testified that they never authorized Su to use their credentials in connection with the university. Multiple Tri-Valley University employees testified that the university had no requirements for admission or graduation, and that Su routinely instructed her staff to fabricate fraudulent transcripts.
In carrying out the scheme, Su made additional false representations to DHS through Tri-Valley University’s use of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which the United States government uses, in part, to monitor the “F-1” student visa program. Through her false representations, Su was able to unlawfully obtain and issue F-1 visa-related documents without regard to the students’ academic qualifications or intent to pursue a course of study required to maintain a lawful immigration status. Su admitted and maintained student aliens in exchange for tuition and other payments. The jury also convicted Su of harboring two Tri-Valley University student-employees to assist her in making the false representations to SEVIS. One of the harbored student employees testified that Su asked him to paint her house and to move furniture.
Su made over $5.9 million through her operation of Tri-Valley University and engaged in seven money laundering transactions using proceeds to purchase commercial real estate, a Mercedes Benz car, and multiple residences, including a mansion on the Ruby Hill Golf Club in Pleasanton, each in her name. The investigation began in May 2010 following a tip to HSI pertaining to irregularities at Tri-Valley University.
Su was indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 10, 2011. She was charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy to commit visa fraud, visa fraud, use of a false document, false statements to a government agency, alien harboring, unauthorized access to government computer, and money laundering.
Su was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal after the jury’s verdict. Su’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 20, 2014, before Judge Tigar in San Francisco. The maximum statutory penalty for each violation is as follows:
- 18 U.S.C. § 1343 (wire fraud): 20 years of imprisonment, $250,000 fine, 5 years of supervised release, and restitution;
- 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (mail fraud): 20 years of imprisonment, $250,000 fine, 5 years of supervised release, and restitution;
- 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a) (visa fraud): 10 years of imprisonment, $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and restitution;
- 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(3) (use of a false document): 5 years of imprisonment, $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and restitution;
- 8 U.S.C. § 1324 (alien harboring): 10 years of imprisonment, $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and restitution;
- 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (unauthorized access of government computer): 5 years of imprisonment, $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and restitution; and
- 18 U.S.C. § 1957(a) (money laundering): 10 years of imprisonment, $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and restitution.
However, any sentence will be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Wade Rhyne and Hartley West are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Noble Hughes, Janice Pagsanjan, and Rosario Calderon. The prosecution is the result of a multi-year investigation by ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).