Woman sent to prison for fraudulent visas

March 13, 2009 1:23:23 PM PDT
A woman who arranged fraudulent visas for 15 Chinese citizens has been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco to two years in prison for the fraud and for fleeing the country.

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Yan Ru Chu, 45, was given the sentence Thursday by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, who also ordered her to serve three years on probation following the prison term.

Chu, who previously lived in the San Jose area, pleaded guilty before White in December to one count of entry visa fraud, one count of alien smuggling, and one count of failing to appear in court.

Chu was indicted in 2005 and was initially arrested on a preliminary charge in 2004. While free on bail, she fled to Taiwan and eventually to Beijing, China, where she lived with her parents. She was rearrested a year ago when she returned to the United States via Seattle, where her husband and two teenage children now live.

In the 1990s, Chu and her husband ran a restaurant in Capitola. In 2001, she was convicted of one count of evading taxes on income from the restaurant.

U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello said Chu admitted to carrying out the visa fraud by creating a fake company, which she called American Environmental and Water Pollution Control Inc.

She then wrote letters on the phony company's letterhead inviting 15 Chinese citizens to apply for visas in order to do business with the company. The Chinese citizens used the visas to enter and remain in the United States, Russoniello said.

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