11 individuals who fled the U.S. face multiple charges.
Santa Ana – On Thurs., Apr. 30, ten Chinese nationals who fled the U.S. earlier that month were charged with violating federal court orders. They were all required to remain in the country during investigations into “Chinese Maternity Houses” that allegedly helped women come to the U.S. on fraudulent visas so they could give birth to children who would become U.S. citizens.
In addition to the charges related to the alleged violations of the court orders designating them as material witnesses, ten of the defendants are also charged with making false statements on visa applications for allegedly lying to federal immigration authorities on the true purpose of their trips to the U.S.
An 11th defendant, who had not been formally ordered to remain in the United States as a material witness, is charged only with visa fraud.
According to the United States Attorney’s Office, the defendants charged are Dongjiang He, 46, and his wife, Zhichan Yu, 40, last residing in Rancho Cucamonga; Jun Xiao, 30, and LongJing Yi, 30, last residing in Irvine; Jia Luo, 30, last residing in Rancho Cucamonga; Renlong Chen, 34, and his wife Wei Wang, 33, last residing in Rancho Cucamonga; Jie He, 29, last residing in Rancho Cucamonga; and Eryun Zhang, 25, her husband, Liang Ni, 25, and her mother, Ji Xu, 50, all last residing in Rancho Cucamonga.
All but one of the defendants were customers of Chinese maternity house operations in Southern California who paid up to $50,000 to obtain temporary visitor’s visas for authorization to travel to the U.S. According to court documents, they fraudulently claimed their stay was only for several days.
Ten of the defendants are among 29 individuals who were designated by United States Magistrate Judges as material witnesses after they were encountered by federal law enforcement authorities. 37 federal search warrants were executed in March across Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties. As detailed in the affidavits in support of those search warrants, federal agents are investigating multiple Chinese maternity operations in Southern California for suspected immigration fraud and tax fraud, as well as failing to report foreign bank accounts in China and Hong Kong.
Federal arrest warrants have been issued for all 11 defendants named in the criminal complaints filed. All but one of the defendants are charged with obstruction of justice and criminal contempt of court, and 10 of them are also charged with making a false statement on a visa application.
All of the defendants are fugitives and are believe to be in China at this time.
If convicted, the defendants face statutory maximum sentences of 25 years in federal prison for the charge of false statement on a visa application and five years in federal prison for the charge of obstruction of justice. There is no maximum penalty for the charge of criminal contempt of court