Tri-Valley University head indicted in visa fraud

Washington:  The president of the California-based Tri-Valley University, whose closure affected nearly 1,500 Indian students, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on the allegations of visa fraud and money laundering.

Susan Xiao-Ping Su, 41, was taken into custody Monday morning at her Pleasanton, California, home by special agents of the Homeland Security Investigations of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Su, who also served as the school’s chief executive officer, is accused of engaging in a two-year scheme to defraud the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by submitting phony documents in support of Tri-Valley University’s applications to admit foreign nationals on student visas.

The indictment further alleges that after obtaining such approvals, Su fraudulently issued visa-related documents to students in exchange for “tuition and fees” and engaged in multiple money laundering transactions totalling more than $3.2 million.

“Today’s indictment alleges a visa fraud scheme through which the defendant accrued millions of dollars and took advantage of others’ eagerness to come to the United States,” said US attorney Melinda Haag.

The 33 counts contained in the indictment carry maximum penalties ranging from one to 20 years imprisonment.

The charges include wire fraud; mail fraud; visa fraud and conspiracy to commit visa fraud; use of a false document; making false statements to a government agency; alien harbouring; unauthorised access to a government computer and money laundering.

According to a federal complaint filed in a California court in January, the TVU had helped foreign nationals illegally acquire immigration status.

The sham university is said to have 1,555 students. As many as 95 percent of these students are Indian nationals, the complaint said.

Investigations by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have found that while students were admitted to various residential and online courses of the university and on paper lived in California, but in reality they “illegally” worked in various parts of the country as far as Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Texas.
By Arun Kumar