Monday, August 6, 2012

Executive of Two Sunnyvale Universities Arrested for Conspiracy to Commit Visa Fraud

The chief executive officer of two Bay Area universities was arrested Thursday, August 2, 2012, following his indictment on charges stemming from a long-term probe spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jerry Wang, 34, was taken into custody at his Santa Clara home the morning of Thursday, August 2, 2012. Wang is the CEO of two Sunnyvale-based institutions, Herguan University and the University of East-West Medicine. Wang is named in a 15-count indictment handed down July 24 charging him with conspiracy to commit visa fraud; use of false documents; aggravated identity theft; and unauthorized access to government computers. Wang, who made his initial appearance in federal court Thursday, August 2, 2012, is scheduled to be formally arraigned Aug. 20.

The prosecution is the result of an 18-month investigation by the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) overseen by HSI. The DBFTF is a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations related to fraud schemes involving immigration documents and benefits.

The case indictment unsealed Thursday, August 2, 2012, alleges that, beginning in July 2007 and continuing through at least February 2011, Wang and others conspired to commit visa fraud by submitting falsified documents to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). In addition to the conspiracy charge, Wang is accused of four counts of visa fraud, seven counts involving false documents, two counts of aggravated identity theft and one count involving unauthorized access to a government computer. If convicted of all the charges, he faces a maximum penalty of up to 85 years in prison.

In light of the allegations uncovered during the ongoing investigation, the two universities face the loss of their authorization to enroll foreign students under SEVP. ICE has issued both schools a Notice of Intent to Withdraw, the first step in revoking the schools' SEVP certification. The schools have 30 days to respond to the notice and request an interview to contest the action. Meanwhile, foreign students who are currently enrolled at these universities may continue to attend classes as long as the schools remain SEVP-certified and the students are able to maintain their lawful immigration status.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hartley M. K. West aided by Rania Ghawi.

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