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Laguna Beach immigration attorney sentenced to 18 months in visa fraud scheme

Prosecutors say Laguna Beach immigration lawyer Mihae Park, 54, submitted false information to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and filed false tax returns.
(File Photo / Getty Images)

A Laguna Beach immigration lawyer has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for submitting numerous fraudulent visa petitions and failing to report illicit funds to the Internal Revenue Service, according to authorities.

Mihae Park, 54, was sentenced Thursday in Santa Ana and ordered to return to court on March 6 for a hearing on restitution payments. She previously pleaded guilty to the charges on May 16, according to Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

Prosecutors say Park’s fraudulent activity took place between 2000 and 2017, when she “submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services more than 200 immigrant and non-immigrant work visa petitions that had false information,” according to McEvoy.

“The petitions sought visas for foreign nationals based on false claims that they were going to work in highly skilled or executive positions at various businesses when, in reality, they would not be employed by those companies, or they worked in low-level positions for which a visa would not be available,” McEvoy said. “Among other false information contained in the visa petitions, Park claimed that she was employed by the petitioners under the alias Michelle Park, stated the businesses had employees who were actually deceased or retired people, listed the same people as employees at multiple petitioners, used bogus Social Security numbers for employees of petitioners and submitted fake tax returns for work visa petitioners.”

Prosecutors said Park “submitted petitions on behalf of entities without their knowledge, for the benefit of individuals who were not their employees, and disclosed none of that to” Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“Park also admitted filing false tax returns for the years 2009 through 2014 by failing to report receipts totaling $763,418 for this time period,” McEvoy said. “As a result of her underreporting of her business income, Park admitted in her plea agreement that she owes the IRS $266,988 in unpaid federal income tax over this six-year period.”

Nearly $300,000 that Park received in the scheme was seized, along with a 2012 Ferrari California and a 2015 Volkswagen GTI that she bought with ill-gotten gains, McEvoy said.

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