Friday, July 16, 2004

AP Wire | 07/16/2004 | Visa broker pleads guilty in immigration bribery scheme

AP Wire | 07/16/2004 | Visa broker pleads guilty in immigration bribery scheme
Posted on Fri, Jul. 16, 2004

Visa broker pleads guilty in immigration bribery scheme

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO - A visa broker pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to bribery and visa fraud in a scheme that involved paying kickbacks to a married couple who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka, prosecutors said.

Kim Chi Lam, 53, of Gardena pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiring to defraud the United States, bribing State Department officials and committing visa fraud. Lam faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when she is sentenced Oct. 15.

Prosecutors said Lam admitted that she was paid by foreign nationals from 2000 to 2003 to refer them to the embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where Long N. Lee and her husband, Acey Johnson, worked for the State Department. Most of the foreign nationals were from Vietnam and India.

Lee, 52, a State Department foreign service officer, and Johnson, 33, a consular associate, pleaded guilty to charges that they sold American visas for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. They are scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 27.

Lam and her daughter, Phuong-Hien Lam Trinh, said they gave money to Lee and Johnson for the visas.

Trinh, 35, of Gardena, pleaded guilty July 7 to a misdemeanor charge of supplementing the salary of a government official.

Lam is the 10th defendant to plead guilty in the case that stemmed from investigations in Sri Lanka, California and Virginia. One other defendant remains on the lam.

Lee previously worked at embassies in Fiji, Vietnam and Cape Verde. Johnson also worked in Fiji.


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