Monday, November 21, 2005


Pastor charged with filing fraudulent visa applications

Tacoma, Washington - The pastor of the Hope Korean Church in Tacoma has been charged with filing fraudulent visa applications for two men he said were coming to the U.S. to work at his church.

Dong Wan Park, 52, was taken into custody Friday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents after a federal indictment charged him with three counts of visa fraud. He made his first court appearance Friday afternoon in Tacoma.

He pleaded not guilty and a trial was set for Jan. 17. Park was released on bond.

The indictment alleges that the pastor, in 2002 and 2003, made false statements in nonimmigrant worker petitions he filed on behalf of two Korean citizens, implying that they would be employed as pastors at his church. But the two had no religious training and had never worked for the Hope Korean Church, the indictment said.

The visa applications that Park submitted included seminary transcripts and certificates of ordination, which turned out to be counterfeit, according to the federal agents. ICE alleges that Park received $47,000 to sponsor the two men.

"ICE is aggressively targeting those who commit this kind of fraud and then seek to profit from it," said Leigh Winchell, special agent-in-charge of ICE in Seattle.

The charges against Park carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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