According to a DOJ press release, brokers, recruiters, and employers from across the United States who allegedly conspired with more than 1,000 foreign nationals to fraudulently maintain student visas and obtain foreign worker visas through a “pay to stay” fake New Jersey college. The University of Northern New Jersey is a fake school made up by the Department of Justice with no teachers, no counselors, no curriculum, and no classes. It was just an office “staffed with federal agents posing as school administrators.”
The defendants were arrested in New Jersey and Washington by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and charged with 14 complaints including conspiracy to commit visa fraud, conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit, and other offenses. The defendants operated recruiting companies for international students. Acting as recruiters, they solicited undercover agents to participate in a scheme to get F-1 student and H-1B skilled worker visas. They admitted to the undercover agents their clients would not take classes, and were getting a commission for obtaining visas.
Most of the clients were from China and India, and used the visas to get coveted jobs at Apple and Facebook. The feds are now working to terminate the nonimmigrant status for the foreigners involved in the scheme and deporting the participants. The government claims creating the fake university was not entrapment because those who tried to defraud the immigration system were already predisposed to criminal activity. The 1000 foreigners looking for visas were also willing participants.
What is Entrapment?
Entrapment can be generally defined as when law enforcement induces someone to commit a crime they otherwise would not have been likely to commit. The key, then, is that if you were already predisposed to criminal activity, it is not entrapment. See CA Penal Code § 647. This is based on the premise that reasonable law abiding citizens will say “no” when given an opportunity to commit a crime.
Entrapment is an affirmative legal defense, but you will have the burden to show that law enforcement was acting illegally. More importantly, the defense only applies to entrapment caused by law enforcement. The defense does not apply if private citizens not acting as a police agents convince you to commit a crime.
San Diego Entrapment and Criminal Defense Lawyer
The Law Offices of David M. Boertje have handled all types of Misdemeanor and Felony criminal cases in San Diego County from drug charges to fraud. We have handled many entrapment cases. Entrapment can happen to anyone, especially if he or she is already in a vulnerable situation. Sometimes, the reward is so lucrative, it overcomes free will. Do not fight criminal charges alone. If you have been charged with committing a crime, contact attorney David Boertje today.