Lawyer arrested for selling fake work visas to buy cemetery plots

Here's a money laundering scheme that sounds like it's right out of an episode of Law & Order. A West Covina, Calif.-based attorney and two business associates were recently arrested for committing visa fraud in an elaborate scheme that involved sham businesses, money laundering and the purchase of cemetery plots.

The arrest, which happened last Thursday, barely made newspaper headlines. But what a scheme! Over a ten year period, the fraudsters allegedly established fake businesses in order to file for work visas. They then sold the immigrant and non-immigrant work visas to aliens enabling them to move to the U.S.

The attorney, Kelly Einstein Darwin Giles, and business associates Joseph Wu and May Wu, worked at a purported law firm known as the East West Law Group in West Covina. According to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the group submitted fraudulent employment-based immigration petitions and supporting documentation to Federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Department of Labor.

To carry out their scheme, Giles, Wu and Wu submitted false information concerning the availability, nature and location of jobs, in addition to the existence of employers and the wages that would be paid for these purported jobs. According to the criminal complaint, the trio established nearly a dozen shell or fictitious companies. They would then petition the government for work visas for aliens to come to the United States for the purpose of working for the fake companies.

In truth, however, the aliens did not actually work for the fake companies and they did not perform the jobs described in the fraudulent petitions.

East West Law normally charged the aliens between $6,000 and $50,000 to file the fraudulent petitions, depending on the length of legal status and type of visa that was granted. According to the criminal complaint, Giles, Wu and Wu laundered $830,376 in proceeds from the visa fraud scheme by buying 30 cemetery plots and 20 monuments and plaques.

They probably figured this would be a good business. After all, cemetery plots are generally recession proof. But in this case, their decade-long scheme resulted in a dead end.

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