Three Defendants Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court For Roles In Immigration Asylum Fraud Scheme
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that SONG LUO, ZEYUAN WANG, and YONG ZHANG were sentenced in Manhattan federal court in connection with their roles in a scheme to commit immigration fraud by creating and submitting applications for political asylum on behalf of Chinese nationals that contained false stories of persecution purportedly suffered by these applicants. LUO, WANG, and ZHANG were each sentenced to three months in prison. The defendants each previously pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit immigration fraud, and were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As part of the immigration fraud scheme, Song Luo, Zeyuan Wang, and Yong Zhang aided others in exploiting this country’s asylum laws by coaching and assisting them to lie on their applications. The sentences imposed on the defendants today ensure that they will be punished for their crimes.”
According to the Indictment, other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made at various proceedings in this case, including today’s sentencing:
LUO, WANG, and ZHANG worked as paralegals at a law firm located at 305 Broadway, New York, New York, and also did work for other law firms. As part of the scheme, LUO and ZHANG coached applicants on how best to portray their false persecution stories to asylum officers interviewing each applicant for political asylum. WANG assisted in the creation and submission of applications containing the false persecution stories.
In addition to the prison terms, LUO, 35, of Ridgewood, New York, WANG, 33, of Brooklyn, New York, and ZHANG, 50, of Flushing, New York, were also each ordered to pay $1,000 fines.
LUO, WANG, and ZHANG were charged as part of a large investigation led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). To date, 30 defendants have been charged with participating in nine separate but overlapping immigration fraud schemes in New York City, including eight lawyers. Twenty-five of these defendants have been convicted for their roles in these schemes.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and USCIS.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Blais and Robert Boone are in charge of the prosecution.