The former head of College Prep Academy in Duluth was sentenced to 21 months in prison for bringing illegal aliens into the country and giving them fraudulent immigration documents to stay here.
Dong Seok Yi was sentenced Wednesday in federal district court in Atlanta, along with co-conspirator Sang Houn Kim of California, who was sentenced to one year in prison. Two other co-defendants will be sentenced later for their involvement.
Yi, also the owner of the Korean Times Atlanta newspaper, pleaded guilty in February to immigration document fraud. Kim pleaded guilty in January to conspiring to commit immigration document fraud. Both also were sentenced to three years of supervised release. Nearly $37,000 from banks accounts associated with the school also was forfeited.
According to U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, Yi received approval in 2009 for the academy to enroll foreign students and issue them I-20 forms, enabling them to stay in the U.S. Such students who are issued I-20s can get F-1 student visas, permitting them to stay in the country during their entire schooling.
Once Yi received I-20 approval, prosecutors say he and co-defendants began facilitating F-1 visas for students not entitled or eligible for them.
“Yi conspired with Korean bar owners to enroll females into the school with the understanding that the females would not attend classes as required but would instead work in the bars, which are also known as room salons,” a press release on the sentencing stated.
Another co-defendant, Sook An Kil of Duluth, the academic coordinator for the academy, is accused of signing the I-20 forms under the penalty of perjury, and later certifying the “students” were active and attending classes, although many never attended.
The press release further stated: “Student and Exchange Visitor Information System records show that the school claimed enrollment of up to 100 students when less than half that number were attending class. Many simply began living and working in the country after obtaining a student visa from CPA.”
Prosecutors said Yi and another CPA official, Chang Seon Song of Suwanee, fraudulently obtained documents supporting visa claims through Kim, who charged thousands of dollars for the forms.
Prosecutors say Yi profited by charging thousands in quarterly tuition payments and for keeping the immigrants on the student roll.
“This defendant’s fraud scheme exploited a federal program that offers valuable educational opportunities to foreign students, and he instead took advantage of this program for his own personal gain,” Yates said in a prepared statement. “It’s especially disappointing when someone victimizes a program like this that is designed to give foreign students a beneficial educational experience.”
Song and An Kil are scheduled to be sentenced in July. Both have pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit immigration document fraud.