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Ex-CEO Of Sunnyvale's Herguan University Gets Prison, $700K Fine In Visa Fraud Case

SUNNYVALE (CBS SF) – A former executive of a small private university in Sunnyvale has been sentenced in federal court in San Jose to a year in prison for submitting a false document to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Former Herguan University Chief Executive Officer Jerry Wang, 37, of Santa Clara, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila.  Davila also ordered him to forfeit $700,000, which Wang has already paid, according to court filings.

Wang pleaded guilty before Davila in April to the count of submitting a false document.

Herguan University, founded in 2005 by Wang's father, Ying Wang, offers master's degrees in business administration and computer science.

Jerry Wang was initially charged in a 15-count indictment in 2012.  In 2014, a revised grand jury indictment charged him with 14 counts of conspiring to commit visa fraud and submitting fraudulent documents in connection with the school's bid to be certified by the Homeland Security Department to admit foreign students.

The count to which Wang pleaded guilty concerned the submission of a fraudulent academic warning letter for students with poor attendance.

A DHS inspector in 2010 had requested an example of such a letter, which was one of the requirements for a school to receive approval to admit foreign students.

The other 13 counts, which were dismissed as part of Wang's plea bargain, included charges that he submitted forged letters and certificates concerning student employment, transfer of credits, transcripts and visa eligibility.

Although those charges were dismissed, Acting U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch said that in the plea agreement, Wang admitted to participating in a visa fraud scheme and to submitting more than 100 fraudulent documents to the government.

According to a sentencing brief filed by Wang's defense attorney, Wang was born in Beijing and immigrated to the United States with his mother when he was 13. His father, a doctor, had arrived in the United States several years earlier.

Ying Wang established a clinic in Sunnyvale where he practiced Chinese medicine. In 1997, the business evolved into East-West University, where he taught Chinese medicine.

In 2005, Ying Wang founded Herguan University on the same campus.  Jerry Wang was designated in 2007 as the university official in charge of maintaining student records and providing information to the Homeland Security Department. Wang's mother, Su Tong, became the chief financial officer.

Defense attorney Edwin Prather wrote in the sentencing brief, "Mr. Wang was assuredly sloppy and inattentive at his job, and delegated administrative duties when he should not have.

"But it was never Mr. Wang's intention to commit fraud, willingly break the law, cheat the system and gain an advantage for the benefit of his family businesses," the attorney wrote.

Stretch said in a statement, "Jerry Wang has admitted submitting over 100 fraudulent documents to the government in an effort to circumvent the rules applying to international students.

"In doing so, he has imperiled the programs that allow international students to visit the United States in order to engage in valuable educational exchanges," Stretch said.

Davila ordered Wang to self-surrender to begin serving his sentence on Nov. 3.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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