Last month a woman was arrested at her friend's home and charged with visa fraud, a federal charge. According to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), she was allegedly enrolling students from different countries at her Blue Diamond flight school, but the school was not authorized to receive foreign students under federal government screening procedures. These procedures are in place to prevent a recurrence of another Sept. 11 attack. These types of fraud are of increased concern not only in California but across the United States as well, so authorities are putting extra effort into surveillance.
A special agent in charge of ICE investigations in Los Angeles claims the woman was not screening people and had no idea if they had terrorist ties, in contravention of established federal procedures. She allegedly coached her students not to tell United States officials that they were planning to attend her flight school when they applied for their visas. The woman was released on a $40,000 bond with electronic monitoring. She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 21.
Authorities apparently learned of the flight school scheme when two Egyptians who received visas to attend a flight school in North Carolina admitted that they would be training at Blue Diamond. The woman allegedly lured students to her school by offering faster training for a commercial pilot's license at lower costs than other schools were offering. She is facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Anyone in California or elsewhere who is accused of fraud or white collar crime faces the real possibility of jail and severe financial penalties. The mere allegation of federal criminal charges of this nature can be devastating to an individual and can lead to embarrassment in their community. Consequently, these matters must be handled with discerning care while also mounting a strong defense aimed at an acquittal or other favorable resolution.
Source: Associated Press, " APNewsBreak: Woman accused of flight school fraud," Amy Taxin, Dec. 1, 2011