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Calif. woman gets 16 years for university immigration scam

An exterior view of what was purported to be Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton, Calif.

Tri-Valley University via CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO -- A San Francisco Bay Area woman has been sentenced to more than 16 years in prison for running what prosecutors say was a phony university that served as a front for an immigration scam.

Susan Xiao-Ping Su, founder and president of the so-called Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton, was also ordered during a hearing Friday to forfeit $5.6 million and pay more than $900,000 in restitution.

The "university" was purported to be a "Christian higher education institution." According to its now-defunct website, the unaccredited online school, founded by Su in 2008, was shut down by the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education in 2011, reported CBS San Francisco.

She was convicted in March 2014 of visa fraud and other charges. Multiple Tri-Valley employees testified that the school had no graduation and admission requirements and that Su instructed her staff to fabricate transcripts and other documents.

Federal prosecutors say Su was selling visa-related documents that allowed foreigners, mostly Indian nationals, to live and work in the U.S.

In 2011, Su wrote on the website that the institution had closed and told students, "The final message from Ms. Su as TVU's President is an [ENCOURAGEMENT] to you all to MOVE ON," according to earlier reports.