A woman from the San Francisco Bay area was sentenced Friday to a minimum of 16 years in prison, after it was discovered she was running a phony university that also partly served as a front for an immigration scam.
Susan Xiao-Ping Su, 44, operated the Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton and netted nearly $5.6 million while the university was in business. The university was the front for foreign students seeking to establish United States immigration status. Su would obtain visa documents “without regard to the students’ academic qualifications or intent to pursue a course of study required to maintain a lawful immigration status,” authorities said.
It was discovered that Su was accepting money offers from foreigners, who were mostly from India, while claiming to offer “Christian higher education.” Prosecutors involved in the case stated that Indian nationals would pay $2,700 a semester for tuition in return for the visa-related documents that would allow them to live and work in the U.S. on student immigration status.
She would use the proceeds from the school to buy commercial real estate, cars, and numerous homes including a mansion at a prestigious California golf club.
Many of the school’s employees testified in court that the school had no graduation or admission requirements, and that Su told her staff to fabricate transcripts and other educational documents. The university professors said that they didn’t allow Su to use their teaching credentials in connection with the institution.
Su was ordered during a hearing Friday by a U.S. District to serve a 198 month term behind bars, forfeit the $5.6 million and pay more than $904,000 in restitution fees. Su was convicted in March as well for visa fraud and multiple other charges.