Saturday, December 26, 2009


 A judge agreed on December 23,2009 to electronic monitoring for a Fullerton pastor facing federal charges for allegedly using a religious university as a front to sell student visas that netted him thousands of dollars a month.
Samuel Chai Cho Oh, the owner of California Union University, surrendered to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Tuesday, according to ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice.
Oh, who is also the pastor of the Union Church on the university's campus, is accused in a criminal complaint of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and faces a maximum of five years in prison if convicted, Kice said.
Oh, 65, made his initial court appearance this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Marc L. Goldman, who agreed to home confinement but ordered him to post a $30,000 bond.
Defense attorney Adriaan F. Van Der Capellen requested that his client be released without having to post bail, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Rob Keenan said he wanted some sort of guarantee that Oh will appear in court because he has contacts in South Korea.
Van Der Capellen surrendered Oh's passport after the hearing. The attorney said Oh could not post bail because the government has seized most of his assets.
He was hospitalized for high blood pressure Tuesday before being cleared to stay overnight in the Santa Ana jail, Van Der Capellen said.
"He's a good man, an honest man," Van Der Capellen said before the hearing.
If there was a scheme to sell student visas at the university, Oh was not aware of it, Van Der Capellen said. The Korean-born Oh's English is "rough," Van Der Capellen said.
He needed an interpreter in court today.
Oh, a naturalized U.S. citizen who has lived in Garden Grove the past 13 years, is a Presbyterian minister who has traveled all over the world with his ministry, Van Der Capellen said.
The government alleges that Oh collected $40,000 to $50,000 monthly from people posing as foreign students. The "students" were given forms that allowed them to go to a U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad and apply for a student visa, Kice said.
The university's federal certification was revoked Oct. 18, but until then, the school at 905 Euclid St. was authorized to accept foreign students pursuing religious and biblical studies as well as learning English as a second language and Oriental medicine, Kice said.
During their 10-month investigation, ICE agents arrested and questioned more than 30 foreign nationals who claimed they paid Oh anywhere from $600 to more than $10,000 for the documents allowing them to get student visas and sometimes bogus degrees, Kice said.
Kuy Nam Ko, who was an Interpol fugitive, is named in court papers as a witness. Ko, who was arrested Aug. 13 by ICE agents, was wanted in South Korea for an alleged embezzlement scheme in 2003, according to ICE.
He was accused of fleeing to the United States with $650,000 from the sale of a church in Seoul, according to court papers.
Ko told authorities he met Oh in 2007 through a close friend in South Korea, and he worked for Oh as a pastor at his church on the university campus, according to ICE. Ko told investigators he never saw any students or teachers on campus and thought it was a fraud, according to the ICE official.
Many of the university's students told agents they never attended class nor saw any teachers or other students on campus, Kice said. One man said he received a bachelor's degree in education and detailed to agents how Oh allegedly staged a phony graduation ceremony on campus last May, Kice said.
ICE agents paid an unannounced visit to the university March 26 and found little evidence of scholastic activity, according to court papers. While waiting for Oh to arrive, the agents toured the campus and found 14 mostly empty classrooms, according to court documents.
The agents only found an English-as-a-second-language class and a computer class in session, and both classes were associated with the church, according to court papers. A schedule on the bulletin board was from 2007, according to authorities.
Federal agents seized computers and more than 300 student files from the university in October, Kice said. The agency has also seized more than $400,000 in two separate bank accounts maintained by Oh and an associate, she said.
Oh accepted mostly Korean students, but the university also had foreign nationals from more than 20 countries.

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