Pleasanton Weekly

News - January 28, 2011

Feds charge university founder with money laundering, fraud

Tri-Valley University was 'elaborate fraud scheme,' documents say

by Glenn Wohltmann

Federal court documents show Susan Xiao-Ping Su, the founder of Tri-Valley University and owner of two homes in Pleasanton, has been charged with money laundering, mail fraud and wire fraud.

The university -- apparently operated out of a small, two-story office space on Boulder Court -- and the two houses were part of a raid last week by federal officials from ICE, the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement division of Homeland Security.

Court documents claim that Su ran an "elaborate fraud scheme" that netted millions of dollars from foreign nationals who hoped to become legal immigrants.

Su "made false statements and misrepresentations in petitions to DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) to obtain student visas from the government," according to charges filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Oakland. "Su and Tri-Valley University have made millions of dollars in tuition fees for issuing these visa related documents which enable foreign nationals (to) obtain illegal student immigrant status."

The document says Su used profits from her scam to buy five properties, including the two homes in Pleasanton raided by ICE last week -- at 2890 Victoria Ridge Court and 1371 Germano Way.

Although on its website the university claims faculty members from prominent businesses and other universities, Tri-Valley University was never an accredited university, according to federal documents.

Doors at Tri-Valley University remain locked, and calls to its single phone number remain unanswered; black plastic bags shroud the second-story windows of the office suite.

A search of the school's online catalog -- with a long list of spelling and grammatical errors -- shows the university claims to offer bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in everything from engineering to law to medicine.

The college catalog claims the campus "feature a state-of-art library, faculty-student lodge administrative offices and classrooms (and) research labs."

The school's catalog, however, shows many of its classes being held in the same rooms and at the same time.

Questions about the university have been circulating since at least last September, when a comment was posted on a consumer website that the school was not accredited.

A message from Su on the Tri-Valley University website says "programs at Tri-Valley University are designated with the key of integration: integration of Christian faith with academics, academic principles with industry practical application, integration of career pursuit with spiritual growth."

An April hearing has been set.

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