By Alex Robinson
A Flushing deacon, who was found guilty of immigration fraud after she coached asylum seekers how to lie on their applications, has been sentenced to three years’ probation, the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said.
Liying Lin, 30, had faced up to 25 years in prison for conducting biweekly training sessions for asylum seekers in which she would teach them how to fabricate stories to support fraudulent asylum claims, according to an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court.
“We’re very satisfied with the sentence. I think it was the appropriate sentence given the nature of her offense,” said Kenneth Paul, the attorney representing Lin in the case. “She was facing significantly more jail time even prior to going to trial in terms of a plea offer. Having gone to trial and all the facts coming out, it led to the appropriate sentence, which was a non-jail sentence.”
After a seven-day trial in March, a jury unanimously found Lin guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and two counts of immigration fraud. She was acquitted of one count of immigration fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Lin held her training sessions in exchange for donations and direct payments at the Full Gospel Global Mission Church in Flushing, at 42-60 Colden St., Suite 1A, where she worked, according to the indictment.
One-on-one training sessions were also on offer, but would cost applicants a larger cash donation, the indictment said.
Immigration laws require that asylum seekers can prove they have suffered persecution in their home country or at least a well-founded fear they might be oppressed if they return.
Lin would therefore brief applicants on the kinds of questions they would be asked about religious persecution and how to answer them, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office, and she would also provide baptism documents for additional cash.
During applicant interviews, Lin would serve as a translator and would kick applicants under the table if they gave an answer that deviated from what she had coached them to say, court papers said. She would also falsely translate their Chinese answer if it was not what she had told them to say, according to the indictment.
Lin’s arrest in 2012, along with 25 others, was part of a federal crackdown on immigration fraud and the culmination of a three-year investigation by the FBI.
Others charged in the investigation included Flushing translators, lawyers and paralegals, the indictment said.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.