A husband and wife were sentenced Monday — one to three years jail time and the other to five years probation — for taking more than $1.7 million from Chinese nationals in an immigration scheme.
Nianfei Bu, aka Allen Bu, 34, of West Covina, pleaded no contest to two counts of grand theft and one count of filing a false tax return, all felonies, and was immediately sentenced to the three-year jail term. He was also ordered to pay more than $1.685 million in restitution.
His wife, Yjie Zhong, pleaded no contest to one felony count each of mortgage fraud and grand theft. She was ordered to pay $85,728 and sentenced to five years probation.
The crimes were committed in 2015-16, when the defendants promised they could secure visas for seven Chinese nationals if they invested in one of five restaurants owned by Bu, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The defendants were not attorneys or registered immigration consultants and provided none of the promised legal or immigration services, according to prosecutors.
Bu was also charged with failing to pay $11,000 in wages owed to employees hired to help contact potential investors. Authorities said the employees weren’t aware of the illegal nature of the operation.
A third defendant, Hourong Zhang, aka Joanna Zhang, 37, of Rowland Heights, is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 18 to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial on eight counts of grand theft of more than $950 by fraud and two counts each of failing a false tax return and failure to file a tax return, all felonies.