SAIPAN UNIVERSITY CHIEF GETS 9 YEARS FOR FRAUD

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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 7) – A federal court on Saipan yesterday sentenced Saipan University founder Soon Kyung Park to nine years and one month for masterminding a scheme to fraudulently induce students from China to study on Saipan.

U.S. District Court Judge Alex R. Munson imposed a 109-month jail term on Park for three counts of interstate and foreign transportation of persons in execution of a scheme to defraud.

Munson said after completing the jail sentence, Park, alias Piao Cun Jing and Dr. Park, shall be placed on supervised release for three years.

Munson ordered the 49-year-old Park to immediately pay restitution to the 88 victims in the total amount of $567,432.

The judge ruled that the defendant shall forfeit to the U.S. government all the money in several bank accounts that he had used in connection with the fraud.

The forfeited accounts are in the names of Tinian University at the Bank of Guam, Saipan University at the Bank of Guam, and Jesus I. Taisague at the Bank of Hawaii in Saipan.

During the probationary period, Munson said, Park shall be delivered to a duly authorized immigration officer for deportation proceedings.

Munson required the defendant to perform 300 hours of community work service, obey federal and local laws, and pay a $300 special assessment fee.

During the sentencing, the judge described Park’s numerous false representations about Saipan University and the ability of Chinese students to work in the CNMI as an "absolute fraud."

Munson called it an "absolute disgrace" that the defendant cheated 88 Chinese students out of between $5,000 and $10,000.

The judge noted that Park maintained a lavish lifestyle in Korea that included a $600,000 home, a $4,500 monthly mortgage payment, $3,000 for utilities, and $1,200 monthly towards a life insurance policy.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Smith recommended a sentence at the upper level of the guideline range or 108 months in jail.

Attorney Joseph Arriola, counsel for Park, recommended on the lower-end of the guideline range.

Smith stated that in 2003 Park recruited Chinese students to attend Saipan University by falsely representing both the quality of the education and the nature of the university’s facilities.

Smith said Park also cheated Saipan University students by falsely promising that lawful employment could be obtained in the CNMI.

The jury convicted the university’s founder on Sept. 8, 2004 following a seven-day trial.

Leonardo M. Rapadas, U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and NMI, praised the prompt and efficient investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Rapadas, in a press statement, also thanked the CNMI Attorney General’s Office and its investigative unit, which participated in the investigation.

Park was arrested in Guam by the FBI on Dec. 16, 2003.

According to the FBI, from Aug. 2003 to Oct. 2003, the defendant fraudulently induced approximately 88 persons to travel from China to Saipan, through materially false representations and promises regarding the education and facilities available at Saipan University.

The FBI said Park falsely represented that the students could obtain lawful employment in the CNMI.

January 7, 2005

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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