Feds Annul Fake Chinese Marriage Scheme

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – The couple married at a studio in Temple City and honeymooned in Las Vegas at the Wynn casino hotel on The Strip. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the festivities – except that they were staged to deceive immigration officials, Uncle Sam says.
     Chinese nationals paid up to $50,000 apiece to arrange marriages to get permanent resident cards and stay in the United States. The U.S. citizens they married were promised $10,000 for the sham marriages, but at least a dozen of the “spouses” never got dime one, federal investigators say.
     The man behind the immigration frauds was Jason Shiao, 65, of Santa Fe Springs, who is not an immigration lawyer, though he claimed to be one, prosecutors say.
     Shiao and his daughter were arrested Wednesday morning. Federal agents also raided Shiao’s Pasadena business, Zhengi and Associates, seizing computers, storage devices and paperwork.
     “Hollywood may portray marriage fraud as a romantic farce, but it’s a serious crime with serious implications,” said Claude Arnold, agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations in Los Angeles. “Schemes like this not only undermine the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system, they pose a security vulnerability and potentially rob deserving immigrants of benefits they rightfully deserve.”
     An affidavit in support of the criminal complaint says that Shiao, aka Jason Zheng aka Zheng Yi Xiao, coached the couples on how to make the marriages appear genuine. He also prepared fake documentation for them, including apartment leases, wedding photos, bank statements and income tax returns, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
     Shiao’s daughter Lynn Leung, 43, helped broker the marriages and immigration applications. Shannon Mendoza, 48, of Pacoima, was paid $10,000 for each U.S. citizen he recruited to marry, prosecutors said. He is at large.
     Homeland Security was tipped to the scheme three years ago, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
     “(I)nvestigators have identified more than 70 fraudulent immigration applications associated with the defendants, with some dating as far back as October 2006 and others filed as recently as two months ago,” the U.S. attorney said in a statement. “Authorities believe the defendants’ clients learned about the service through word of mouth or from advertisements in Chinese newspapers.”
     The defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud. If convicted they face up to 5 years in federal prison. Shiao and Leung, dual Chinese-Australian citizens, could be deported if found guilty. They are permanent residents.
     A federal judge ordered Shiao released Wednesday afternoon on $200,000 bond. Leung was released on $40,000 bond, according to U.S. District Attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek.
     A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 30 and arraignment for Oct. 6.

%d bloggers like this: