Three Defendants Plead Guilty to Participating in Massive Immigration Fraud Scheme
Seven Defendants Have Now been Convicted in Connection with Scheme Involving Phony Asylum Applications
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 13, 2013|
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Xia Ping Wen, Song Luo, and Xiao Feng Xu have each pled guilty in connection with a massive immigration fraud scheme involving thousands of asylum applications submitted to immigration authorities by at least 10 law firms. Wen pled guilty on May 7, 2013, before Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein, and Luo pled guilty on May 10, 2013, before U.S. District Court Judge John G. Koeltl. Xu pled guilty today before Magistrate Judge Frank Maas.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “The United States opens its arms to victims of persecution across the globe, and our asylum laws are the vehicle through which we are able to provide that critical safety net. Those who orchestrate fraud under the asylum laws, like the defendants in this case, make it more difficult for genuine victims, and we will come down hard on them.”
According to the indictments against Wen Luo, and Xu and other documents filed in this case:
Xu worked as an office manager at a law office in New York, New York, and Luo worked as a paralegal at a law firm also located New York City (collectively, the law firms). The law firms fabricated stories of persecution in connection with the asylum applications of clients that often followed one of three fact patterns: (a) forced abortions performed on women pursuant to China’s family planning policy; (b) persecution based on the client’s belief in Christianity; or (c) political or ideological persecution, typically for membership in China’s Democratic Party or Falun Gong. Since 2006, the law firms have submitted more than 1,000 asylum applications. Xu, Luo, and other employees at the law firms profited by creating and submitting these asylum applications on behalf of Chinese alien applicants. Wen provided various services to the law firms, and other law firms, including selling fake documents in aid of the fraudulent asylum applications.
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Luo, Xu, and Wen each pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit immigration fraud, and each face a maximum of five years in prison. Luo, 34, of Queens, New York, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John G. Koeltl on September 20, 2013. Xu, 57, of Queens, New York; and Wen, 49, of New York, New York, are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Sidney H. Stein on September 19, 2013.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The prosecution is part of Fiction Writers, a joint investigation led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District, the FBI, and the USCIS. To date, 29 defendants have been charged with participating in nine separate but overlapping immigration fraud schemes in New York City, including eight lawyers. Seven defendants have now been convicted. The charges against the remaining defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harris Fischman, Robert Boone, and Brian Blais are in charge of the prosecution.