USDA EMPLOYEE SENTENCED FOR ROLE IN VISA FRAUD SCHEME
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Acting Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray of the Criminal Division announced today that Department of Agriculture employee Hsin Hui Hsu was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment in federal court in Washington, D.C. for his role in a visa fraud scheme.
Hsu pleaded guilty July 29, 2003, before U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, to one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud. The fraudulent scheme resulted in $77,400 in payments and 99 illegally obtained visas for Chinese nationals.
Hsu agreed as part of his plea agreement to cooperate fully with the government and has been cooperating with the government’s ongoing investigation. As a result of his cooperation, Judge Kollar-Kotelly granted the government’s motion for a downward departure from the applicable sentencing guidelines based on Hsu’s substantial assistance to the government.
The resulting sentence consists of a prison term of 21 months, followed by three years of supervised release, 100 hours of community service, payment to the government of the $77,400 illegally received through the scheme, and a $100 special assessment.
According to his plea agreement, Hsu, an agricultural economist employed by the USDA, was assigned to the Economic Research Service (ERS). As part of his official duties, Hsu had authority to invite groups of Chinese nationals with expertise in agricultural science and economics to come to the United States, so that they could meet with, consult and learn from American experts in the same or similar fields.
Beginning in late 1999, Hsu entered into a conspiracy whereby his co-conspirators would locate Chinese nationals in China who were interested in obtaining visas to visit the United States, but who were not otherwise eligible to lawfully and properly obtain a non-immigrant visa to visit the United States.
The co-conspirators, after collecting approximately $10,000 each from the Chinese nationals, would provide their names and bogus biographical information to Hsu. Hsu would then write letters on USDA letterhead to be presented to U.S. consulates in China, stating that the Chinese nationals in question were part of a delegation of agricultural specialists who were going to visit the United States as part of an official government delegation. According to the plea documents, Hsu knew when he drafted the letters that the Chinese nationals in question were not agricultural specialists, and that no official meetings would take place.
Plea documents state that during the course of this scheme, which lasted until about April 2002, Hsu drafted dozens of bogus letters in which he attempted to assist several hundred Chinese nationals in fraudulently obtaining visas. Hsu’s wife, Jing Ling Wu Hsu, aided and abetted her husband in this scheme.
Hsu’s wife pleaded guilty last July to one count of conflict of interest and received a probationary sentence.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Peter R. Zeidenberg and Noah D. Bookbinder of the Public Integrity Section at the U.S. Department of Justice, headed by Section Chief Noel Hillman, and investigated by the Diplomatic Security Service and the USDA Office of Inspector General.