Tri-Valley University president convicted in visa fraud scheme

Prosecutors: Pleasanton-based online school was bogus, designed to take millions from prospective foreign students

The founder and president of an online university based in Pleasanton was taken into custody Monday after a federal court jury found her guilty of 35 counts for running a visa fraud scheme.

Federal prosecutors alleged Tri-Valley University -- which was run by Susan Xiao-Ping Su, 43, of Pleasanton -- was a bogus, unaccredited venture designed to rake in millions of dollars from foreigners who sought to obtain student visas so they could stay in the U.S.

In addition to visa fraud, Su was convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud, use of a false document, false statements to a government agency, alien harboring, unauthorized access to a government computer and money laundering.

Prosecutors said evidence at Su's three-week trial before U.S. Judge Jon Tigar showed she engaged in a two-year scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by submitting fraudulent documents in support of the university's petition for approval to admit foreign students.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said that after Su obtained that approval she fraudulently issued visa-related documents to student aliens in exchange for "tuition and fees."

Prosecutors said that in Su's petition for approval, she made material false representations to Homeland Security about Tri-Valley University's admission requirements, graduation requirements, administrators, instructors, class transferability and intent to comply with federal regulations.

During the trial, prosecutors said, three purported Tri-Valley University professors testified that they never authorized Su to use their credentials in connection with the university and multiple employees testified that the school had no requirements for admission or graduation and she routinely instructed her staff to fabricate transcripts.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Su admitted and maintained student aliens in exchange for tuition and other payments.

Prosecutors said one of Su's convictions was for harboring two Tri-Valley University student-employees to help her in making the false representations to the Student and Exchange Visitors System, which the U.S. government uses to monitor student visas.

One of the harbored student employees testified that Su asked him to paint her house and to move furniture, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Su made nearly $6 million through her operation of Tri-Valley University and engaged in seven money laundering transactions using proceeds to purchase commercial real estate, a Mercedes Benz and multiple residences, including a mansion on the Ruby Hill Golf Club in Pleasanton, each in her name.

Prosecutors said authorities began investigating Su in May 2010 after they received a tip.

Erik Babcock, Su's attorney, couldn't be reached for comment Monday. Su's sentencing is June 20.

— Bay City News Service


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Julia Pardini
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 25, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Deport her!

Julia Pardini from Alamo

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Posted by Julia is Ignorant
a resident of Danville
on Mar 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Julia Pardini from Alamo

Glad you don't ever waiver from your ignorant and racist comments. Where in the article does it say this woman was not a US Citizen. Why do you just assume she can be "deported"?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 26, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Disgusting human being.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Louise
a resident of Danville
on Mar 27, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Citizen or not she can escape prosecution by going back to her country of origin and never have to face a fine or jail time. This is not uncommon. I personally had a client who defrauded the bank they worked for (a Chinese bank in San Francisco)and fled FBI prosecution never to be found again. They had stolen thousands of dollars, and had real estate here in Bay Area that they let go into foreclosure. The rest of the money is in their socks and hidden in a foreign country. We won't deport this lady, we will spend millions in trying to prosecute and then she will escape before we deport her. She didn't steal $6 million cause she is a non risk taker!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Mar 31, 2014 at 2:50 pm

I think it's funny that the headline refers to the conviction of a "University president", since it wasn't in any way an actual university... A better and more accurate headline would be that an operator of a fraudelent student-visa "mill" was convicted. Or, if that's too long, simply "Tri-Valley Scammer Convicted"....

The other part of the story is that some of the "students" were no doubt scammed. But others may have been willing participants. How many weeks of no classes would it take, before they realized that there was no actual university?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2014 at 11:05 am


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