SAN FRANCISCO – 3 September – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network…

SAN FRANCISCO – 3 September – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The United States Attorney’s Office announced that a federal grand jury in San Francisco returned a superseding indictment against six individuals for conspiracy to commit marriage fraud by arranging the fraudulent marriages of Chinese nationals to United States citizens. The marriages were allegedly arranged to evade U.S. immigration law by petitioning to classify aliens as bona fide spouses of the U.S. citizens. The defendants, all residents of the Los Angeles area, are:

Zibu “Bob” Gao, 48, of Rosemead,
Zhicheng Zeng, 58, of Rosemead,
Li Hua Ma, 48, of Temple City,
Xiang Zhuge, 51, of Alhambra,
Ralph Frank Peters, 58, of San Gabriel; and
Liwei Tan Kuo, 44, of Rowland Heights.

According to count one of the superseding indictment, Mr. Gao and Mr. Zeng operated a business known as “Marriage Introduction Services” in Pasadena, California. Mr. Gao advertised a service providing a United States citizen spouse for marriage so that a Chinese national could procure a “green card.” These advertisements ran in Chinese language newspapers with circulation in the Northern District of California. Two prospective husbands from Northern California responded to these advertisements and traveled to Pasadena. Ms. Ma is alleged to have procured a United States citizen wife for one of the husbands, and the other prospective husband was also paired up with a U.S. citizen wife. Mr. Zhuge allegedly drove Mr. Gao along with the two pairs to Las Vegas, Nevada, where they were married on November 26, 2003.

According to count two of the superseding indictment, in a separate conspiracy, Mr. Gao was allegedly also involved with arranging fraudulent marriages with Mr. Peters and Ms. Kuo. Mr. Gao again ran advertisements in Chinese language newspapers with circulation in Northern California. Two additional prospective husbands responded to these advertisements and traveled to Southern California where Mr. Gao introduced them to Mr. Peters and Ms. Kuo. Ms. Kuo allegedly procured United States citizen wives for the men, and, on one occasion, brought in a minister who performed the wedding ceremony in her office.

Mr. Zeng, Ms. Ma and Mr. Zhuge were initially arrested on May 31, 2005, in Los Angeles, California pursuant to charges contained in a criminal complaint. All three are out on bond. An indictment was returned against these individuals and Mr. Gao on July 19, 2005. Mr. Gao is in custody serving a state sentence. Ms. Kuo and Mr. Peters were arrested in Los Angeles on August 31, 2005. They made their initial appearance in federal court in Los Angeles on September 1, 2005 and were ordered detained. All defendants are scheduled to appear at 2:30 p.m. on September 29, 2005 for status and trial setting before the Honorable Jeffrey S. White in San Francisco, California.

The maximum statutory penalty for each count of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 is 5 years and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

An indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Mr. Gao, Mr. Zeng, Ms. Ma, Mr. Zhuge, Mr. Peters and Ms. Kuo must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Monica Fernandez is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of a six-month investigation by the Diplomatic Security Service of the United States Department of State, with the assistance of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the San Gabriel Police Department.