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Document and Benefit Fraud
08/26/2011

Attorney and client convicted of immigration fraud

Attorney also convicted of filing false federal income tax returns

PHILADELPHIA - An attorney, who is a naturalized citizen and Korean native, was found guilty in federal court on Friday for conspiring to violate federal immigration laws. The investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF).

Michael Choi, 55, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., and his client, Jong Soon Park, 48, of Blue Bell, Pa., were found guilty of the conspiracy charge. Choi was also convicted of five counts of making false statements to the government, and two counts of filing false tax returns. The returns for tax years 2005 and 2006 failed to report substantial income from Choi's law firm.

Choi is the principal of the law firm, Choi and Associates, P.C., in Elkins Park, Pa. During the trial, three business owners and co-defendants, Sung Mang Gang, Hee Chang Bang and Keun S. Hwang testified that they had joined Choi in conspiring to defraud the government and make false statements to the United States. A number of Choi's former immigration clients testified that they arranged for Choi's alien clients to fraudulently obtain alien registration receipt cards, commonly known as "green cards," so the aliens could remain in the country, even though they were not entitled to remain here.

The business owners and Choi's former wife and office manager, Sandra Oh, testified that Choi provided cash and legal services to business owners, including his co-defendants, to induce them to sign petitions falsely stating that their business intended to employ Choi's alien clients.

"This case demonstrates both the seriousness of these crimes and the effectiveness of our extensive, collective law enforcement capabilities," said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Philadelphia. "In the wrong hands, fraudulent documents can lead to serious national security consequences."

The DBFTF members include: ICE HSI; FBI; U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division; and Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General.

Sentencing for both Choi and Park is scheduled for Nov. 22, 2011. Choi faces a maximum sentence of 36 years in prison and a fine up to $2 million. Park faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.