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'Sham' Tri-Valley varsity president arrested

May 03, 2011 08:48 IST

California based Tri-Valley University president Susan Xiao Ping Su, finally got arrested early on Monday morning. She has been indicted by the federal grand jury on 33-criminal counts, charging her with 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 harboring, customs enforcement's homeland security investigations.

On January 19, Tri-Valley University was shut down by the federal agents for alleged visa fraud and called it a 'sham university' that left the future of 1,500 students, mostly Indians, in danger.

According to the indictment, Su admitted and maintained foreign students in exchange for tuition and other payments. In furtherance of the F-1 visa scheme, Su also allegedly harboured multiple Tri-Valley University student-employees to assist her in making the false representations to Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. 

The indictment further alleged that the defendant engaged in multiple money laundering transactions totaling more than $3.2 million (around Rs 14.4 crores) using proceeds she derived from the visa fraud scheme.

"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 United States Attorney Melinda Haag. 

"My office remains committed to working closely with ICE Homeland Security Investigations to identify and prosecute those who undermine the integrity of this country's immigration laws through fraud and for personal enrichment," she added.

ICE Director John Morton said, "ICE Homeland Security Investigations will aggressively pursue those who exploit America's legal immigration system solely for their personal gain." 

Immigration attorney Shah Peerally in the San Francisco Bay Area told over phone, "It came late, but we are happy to see they have admitted (ICE) and realised that Susan Su is responsible, and not the students."

In carrying out the scheme, Su is accused of making multiple false representations to DHS through Tri-Valley University's use of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which the US government uses to monitor the "F-1" student visa programme. 

Through her false representations, Su was able to unlawfully obtain and issue F-1 visa-related documents without regard to the students' academic qualifications or intent to pursue a course of study required to maintain a lawful immigration status. 

Ashok Khola, chair student committee of the Telugu Association of North America said, "I think all our students will be happy, yet they should get some positive response on their application for reinstatement."

The Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials started investigating the Tri-Valley University in May 2010, during which it found that 95 percent of the students in active status were citizens of India.

The university claimed that students were living in Sunnyvale, California. But the fact was they were residing across the US.

Located in Pleasanton, the university describes itself as a Christian Higher Education Institution aiming to offer rigorous and excellent quality academic programmes in the context of Christian faith and world view. It offered online academic programs in Engineering, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Law, Medicine as well as MBA.

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

Ritu Jha