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La Verne flight school owner arrested on visa fraud charges

November 30, 2011 |  1:45 pm

A Lake Elsinore woman was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of overseeing a visa fraud scheme that helped foreign nationals enter the country to attend a flight school that was not approved to train them.

Federal authorities allege Karena Chuang, 28, recruited international students to her Blue Diamond Aviation school in La Verne with offers of lower tuition and a shorter training program, even though her school was not credentialed to train foreign students.

Chuang would then apply to government-certified training schools on the behalf of students, only to later enroll them in her own school.    

The company’s website claims, “It’s our goal to help you make your dream a reality in the shortest, most efficient way,” and calls its training “affordable.”

“There is no evidence that anybody who came over was engaged in terrorist activity,” said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the United States attorney’s office in Los Angeles.  “It appears that the scheme was motivated by money, that Ms. Chuang was trying to increase enrollment in the school.”

The federal investigation began in 2010 when officials at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Cairo interviewed students who admitted that they planned to attend Blue Diamond instead of the school indicated on their visa applications.

Chuang was expected to appear in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of visa fraud.

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-- Matt Stevens

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