A California woman and her father have been sentenced to federal prison for hooking up foreign nationals with U.S. citizens for thousands of dollars. They were convicted of visa and marriage fraud for taking up to $50,000 from Chinese nationals for “arranging” marriages. The foreign nationals hoped to get permanent resident status.
Court documents stated that Jason Shiao (aka Zheng Yi Xiao) and his daughter Lynn Leung “assisted foreign nationals who were seeking to obtain lawful permanent resident status to remain in the United States by arranging fraudulent marriages for those foreign nationals to United States citizen spouses,” reported Pasadena News Now on Wednesday.
The 67-year-old Shiao falsely claimed to be a lawyer and managed Jason (USA) International Law Corporation in Pasadena, California. Shiao was sentenced to serve two years–just one week after his daughter was sentenced to six months in federal prison.
The pair were convicted of paying U.S. citizens to participate in the criminal plan, including posing for wedding photographs. Officials also accused them of telling the participants to lie to federal immigration authorities.
A third defendant, Shannon Mendoza of Pacoima, California, has been implicated in the immigration fraud scheme for his part in procuring Americans who would engage in the bogus marriages in exchange for up to $15,000. The co-conspirator was reported to have been transferred to Pennsylvania where he faces charges of trafficking drugs while allegedly on pre-trial release in the immigration fraud case.
Prosecutors in the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office were reported to have handled the case after a three-year multi-agency investigation. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fraud Detection and National Security Unit, the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, and the L.A. Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, conducted the investigation.
Authorities were notified about the scheme when they received an anonymous tip from a caller in September 2012 on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) tipline.