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Document and Benefit Fraud
09/18/2008

2 men sentenced for arranging fraudulent marriages with Chinese nationals

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Two men were sentenced here in federal court Thursday for participating in a conspiracy resulting in dozens of Chinese nationals entering the United States based on sham marriages to U.S. citizens. These sentences resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson sentenced Le Guo Wu, 31, of Philadelphia, Penn., to 30 months in prison; and Houa Vang, 24, of St. Paul, to12 months and one day in prison. Vang and Wu each pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiring to profit from arranging, facilitating and participating in fraudulent marriages.

"These prison sentences demonstrate that admission to the United States is not for sale," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Bloomington. "Such marriage fraud schemes undermine the integrity of our nation's legal immigration system, and can also pose a threat to our national security."

"This conspiracy used lies and deceit to prey upon our nation's immigration laws," said U.S. Attorney Frank J. Magill, District of Minnesota. "In the end, this was about generating a profit by trafficking United States citizens and Chinese nationals through our immigration visa system. The integrity of our nation's borders must be maintained, and these types of crimes will be prosecuted."

According to their plea agreements, assisted by Vang, Wu led a coordinated illegal effort to pay U.S. citizens to enter into sham marriages with Chinese nationals to evade U.S. immigration laws. Both men admitted to committing marriage fraud for several purposes, which included: profiting financially from the arranged marriages, facilitating the fraudulent entry of Chinese aliens into the U.S., and facilitating the fraudulent acquisition of U.S. permanent residency by Chinese aliens.

Wu recruited dozens of U.S. citizens in many states to participate in the conspiracy from 2004 to October 2007. He ran the operation from Philadelphia, but also operated in the Twin Cities, New York, and from within China. Vang's role in the conspiracy continued from 2006 to October 2007.

Both defendants assisted the U.S. citizens with completing and filing immigration petitions, visa applications and other associated documents to enable the aliens to fraudulently enter the United States.

Wu arranged for U.S. citizens to travel to China to document the purported relationships with Chinese nationals, and compensated the U.S. citizens for their participation in the conspiracy.

Vang entered into a fraudulent marriage with a Chinese national in 2006, and traveled to China to help fraudulently document the sham relationship. Vang was offered $20,000 for his participation in his fraudulent wife's illegal entry into the U.S., but ultimately received less than that amount.

This case was investigated by ICE; it was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David M. Genrich and LeeAnn K. Bell, District of Minnesota.