Pleasanton Weekly

News - May 6, 2011

University founder arrested on 33-count federal indictment

Freed on $300,000 bond

by Glenn Wohltmann

A Pleasanton woman, founder of Tri-Valley University, is out of federal custody after posting a $300,000 bond.

Susan Xiao-Ping Su, 41, was taken into custody Monday on a 33-count indictment, which includes money laundering, wire and mail fraud in connection with her operation of Tri-Valley University.

Court documents claim Su netted $3.2 million through the fraud, and engaged in multiple money laundering transactions to cover the profits.

Those documents claim Su used profits from her scam to buy five properties, including the two homes in Pleasanton raided by the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of Homeland Security, at 2890 Victoria Ridge Court and 1371 Germano Way.

Su allegedly engaged in a two-year scheme to defraud the Department of Homeland Security by "submitting fraudulent documents to admit foreign students on student visas" and "fraudulently issuing visa-related documents to student aliens in exchange for 'tuition and fees," federal officials say.

The indictment "alleges a visa fraud scheme through which the defendant accrued millions of dollars and took advantage of others' eagerness to come to the United States," according to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.

Tri-Valley University, which operated out of a small, two-story office space on Boulder Court is now closed. It and the two Pleasanton homes were raided in January by federal officials from ICE.

Federal officials say Su falsely represented her "university" to the government to unlawfully obtain and issue F-1 visa-related documents without regard to the students' academic qualifications or intent to pursue a course of study required to maintain a lawful immigration status. According to the indictment, Su admitted and maintained student aliens in exchange for tuition and other payments.

The F-1 student visa program is designed to allow foreign nationals who are bona fide students to be admitted to the United States on a temporary basis to study at an approved school. F-1 students are admitted for a temporary period during which the student is required to pursue a full course of study at an approved school.

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