Two San Gabriel Valley residents were arrested Thursday on federal charges that allege they orchestrated a scheme in which Chinese nationals paid up to $60,000 to enter into sham marriages with U.S. citizens in the hope of obtaining lawful permanent resident status that would allow them to legally remain in the country.
In addition to the two Los Angeles-area residents, special agents with Homeland Security Investigations arrested two Chinese nationals who allegedly each paid tens of thousands of dollars to enter into sham marriages with U.S. citizens to obtain so-called green cards. The U.S. citizens in these situations were actually undercover HIS agents, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The criminal complaint, filed in Los Angeles federal court, which led to the arrests outlines how the sham marriages allegedly were arranged and how the participants were coached to make their marriages appear legitimate. Specifically, the arrangers recruited U.S. citizens to enter into marriages with Chinese nationals, and then they filed immigration documents with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, according to the document.
The arrangers coached the Chinese nationals and U.S. citizens on how to make their marriages appear genuine and pass interviews conducted by the USCIS, such as by creating a fraudulent paper trail for the couples and memorizing answers to questions immigration service officers could ask during their interviews, prosecutors allege.
The four defendants who were arrested are:
— Xiulan “Cindy” Wang, 46, of San Gabriel, the owner of Pacific Bizhub Consulting;
— Chang Yu “Andy” He, 54, of Monterey Park, the owner of Fair Price Immigration Service, who was taken into custody in San Diego County;
— Zhongnan Liu, 33, of San Diego, who allegedly paid for a sham marriage; and
— Huanzhang Wu, 28, of Saint Paul, Minnesota, who also allegedly paid for a “marriage” to obtain a green card.
A fifth defendant is currently a fugitive being sought by authorities.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, in the course of arranging the marriages involving the undercover HIS agents, He coached the couples on how to make their relationships appear legitimate to bypass U.S. immigration laws. He allegedly instructed them to obtain joint bank accounts and joint apartment leases, keep clothes in the apartments where the couples supposedly lived together, and visit the apartment several days a week so the neighbors would see them together, prosecutors said.
At her initial appearance in Los Angeles federal court, Wang was ordered released on a $100,000 bond. Her arraignment was scheduled for April 9.
Wu appeared in the District of Minnesota, where he was ordered detained pending further proceedings there on Monday. He and Wu are expected to make their first court appearances Friday in federal court in San Diego.
If they were to be convicted of the charge of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, each defendant named in this case would face up to five years in federal prison.