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Laguna Beach lawyer will plead guilty to immigration fraud, tax evasion, federal attorneys say

Laguna Beach lawyer will plead guilty to immigration fraud, tax evasion, federal attorneys say
A Laguna Beach lawyer has agreed to plead guilty to submitting dozens of fraudulent visa petitions to immigration authorities and failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income related to the scheme, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday. Getty Images (Getty Images)

A Laguna Beach lawyer has agreed to plead guilty to submitting dozens of fraudulent visa petitions to immigration authorities and failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income related to the scheme, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday.

Mihae Park, 53, will plead guilty to two felonies — visa fraud and filing a false tax return — at an upcoming court appearance, according to a signed agreement filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, prosecutors said in a news release.

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In the plea agreement, Park admitted to submitting at least 25 false visa petitions to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Among the submitted falsehoods, according to the U.S. attorney’s office, were listing an alias for herself as a petitioner’s employer contact, using fake Social Security numbers, naming deceased or retired people when listing petitioners’ employees, and submitting fraudulent tax returns on behalf of clients to bolster their visa petitions.

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Park, who practiced in Huntington Beach, also admitted to filing false tax returns for the years 2009-14, omitting receipts totaling $763,418 from her law practice and dodging $266,988 in federal income tax over the six-year period, according to the plea deal, prosecutors said.

Federal authorities seized $292,482 that could be traced to fraudulent visa conduct along with a 2012 Ferrari California and a 2015 Volkswagen GTI that court papers state Park purchased with proceeds from her illegal activities.

“Once she pleads guilty to the two offenses, Park will face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison on the visa fraud charge and up to three years’ imprisonment on the tax charge,” according to the news release from the Justice Department.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the IRS’s Criminal Investigation unit investigated the case.

Park is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 14.

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