Los Angeles, California - A former official with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), who went on to operate an immigration consulting service, has been found guilty of participating in a scheme to pay bribes to current government employees to obtain “Green Cards” and citizenship for immigrants.
George Wu, 62, of Pico Rivera, who worked as a CBP officer until early 2012, and then operated Great Eastern Immigration Services, was found guilty on Thursday of paying bribes in an effort to obtain citizenship and legal permanent resident status for several immigrants.
Following a seven-day trial before United States District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald, Wu was found guilty of conspiracy and five counts of bribery of a public official.
Wu, another immigration consultant named Michael Bui and others solicited money from immigrants in exchange for help in obtaining benefits from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that included lawful permanent residence and citizenship. Some of the money paid by the immigrants was used to pay bribes to public officials in exchange for granting immigration benefits.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Wu received and paid bribe money on behalf of immigrants. The overall conspiracy involved at least seven immigrants, one of whom was allowed to pass an English proficiency exam even though she could not speak English.
The five substantive bribery counts that resulted in guilty verdicts relate to three cases. In the first case, an attorney who also works as an immigration consultant paid Wu $15,000, and Wu subsequently paid Bui $10,000, to secure assistance with a citizenship application. In the second case, Wu paid the attorney a total of $15,000 for assistance in securing legal permanent resident status—commonly called a Green Card—for an immigrant. And in the third case, Wu paid a total of $3,000 to an official with USCIS—an official who was acting in an undercover capacity as part of the investigation—for help in obtaining a Green Card for an immigrant.
Wu is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Fitzgerald on November 30. Wu faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy count and up to 15 years in prison for each of the five bribery charges.
Bui pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy and bribery, and he is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Fitzgerald on November 2.
The case against Wu and Bui is part of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations Office of Professional Responsibility and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigation into corruption involving government officials and immigration consultants has resulted in charges against 11 defendants. Seven of those defendants—including Wu and Bui—have now been convicted, including:
- Attorney Kwang Man “John” Lee, who pleaded guilty in March to three counts of bribery and admitted, among other things, paying tens of thousands of bribes to a Senior Immigrations Services Officer with USCIS and arranging sham marriages to secure Green Cards for clients;
- James Dominguez, a former special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who pleaded guilty to making false statements to ICE investigators when he lied about accessing immigration files and providing information to an immigration lawyer; and
- Paul Lovingood, a former official with USCIS, who pleaded guilty to accepting an illegal gratuity from an immigration lawyer after adjudicating a petition for lawful permanent residence filed on behalf of one of the attorney’s clients.