Man Accused in Phony Army Scam Pleads Not Guilty

A Chinese citizen accused of recruiting fellow countrymen to join a phony special forces U.S. Army unit by telling them that it was a path to U.S. citizenship pleaded not guilty Monday to more than a dozen felony charges.

Yupeng Deng, also known as David Deng, is charged with 13 counts, including obtaining money, labor or property by false pretenses and deceptive document crime.

He is charged separately with an unrelated felony count of possession of matter depicting a minor engaging in sexual conduct stemming from the alleged discovery of child pornography at his home.

Deng allegedly created a phony U.S. military unit called the U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit in 2008, gave himself the title of "Supreme Commander" and recruited more than 100 Chinese nationals.

The District Attorney's Office alleges he charged initiation fees ranging from $300 to $450 per year to each recruit, with renewal fees set at $120 annually.

Recruits could increase their rank in the unit by making cash donations to Deng, according to Deputy District Attorney Richard Ceballos.

The recruits were provided with phony U.S. Army uniforms, fake documents and fraudulent military ID cards and directed to report to Deng's Temple City office for military training and indoctrination, the prosecutor alleged.

The recruits marched in a parade in Monterey Park and took a tour of the USS Midway museum in San Diego while dressed in uniform, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Deng, who remains jailed, is due back in Pomona Superior Court on June 14.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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