A Los Angeles man and woman were each placed on two years probation Thursday for their roles in a scheme that used fraudulent passports to help Chinese nationals obtain student visas by using impersonators to take their English proficiency tests for them.
Tuan Tran, 34, and Mohan Zhang, 25, were also ordered by U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt to each complete 120 hours of community service during the period of supervised release.
Tran and Zhang were among six defendants charged with using doctored People's Republic of China passports to impersonate various Chinese nationals at testing locations in and around Los Angeles.
They each pleaded guilty to a single federal count of use of a false passport, and admitted taking TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) exams in the names of others.
To obtain a student visa, foreign citizens have to apply to study at a school authorized by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. Many of those schools require foreign citizens whose first language is not English to certify proficiency in the language by getting a particular score on the TOEFL exam.
Prosecutors said dozens of Chinese nationals took advantage of the scheme and remained in the United States on fraudulently obtained student visas.
The scheme's ringleader, Lui Cai, pleaded guilty in October to two felony counts of using a false passport. The Woodland Hills man is scheduled to be sentenced March 12 in Los Angeles federal court.
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Cai and five other California residents were charged last March in a 26-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury.