A Great Neck man who ran an immigration business in Flushing pleaded guilty last week to ripping off three of his clients by falsely promising to obtain green cards for them, authorities said.
Peter Cheung, 49, admitted to one count of grand larceny in front of State Supreme Court Judge Dorothy Chin-Brandt in Kew Gardens Friday, said a spokesman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Cheung, who had faced up to seven years in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced to six months in jail and five years' probation on June 4.
Cheung also agreed to return the $36,400 he stole from his three victims, the district attorney said.
In November 2000, Cheung, the owner of the American Immigration Consultant Inc. at 36-09 Main St., told a client that someone he knew in the Immigration and Naturalization Service had two "open slots" for Chinese people and could secure her a green card for $35,000, according to the criminal complaint.
The client, Angie Ng, never got the promised green card and threatened to tell the authorities if she did not get her money back, the complaint said.
Cheung returned some of the money but still left Ng short $25,000, the complaint said.
In addition to admitting he stole from Ng, Cheung also pleaded guilty to ripping off two other clients in a similar manner, the district attorney said.
Ng, who has moved from Flushing to South Carolina, said Cheung was very friendly to her because they both were from Hong Kong.
"We were really like sister and brother," she said. "I know he used that to lie to me."
Cheung was arrested in March after admitting to Ng's attorney, Ming Hai, that he had cheated her, according to the complaint.
Hai, who is suing Cheung on behalf of Ng for $75,000, called the six-month sentence fair. Ng, however, thought Cheung deserved a harsher penalty.
Through a spokesman, Brown said, "the guilty plea sends a clear message that conduct of this nature will not be tolerated."
Kevin Tung, Cheung's attorney, could not be reached for comment.
The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service, is still investigating Cheung and his business to see if there are any more victims, the district attorney said.
Hai believes Cheung is just one of several Flushing businessmen who have scammed Chinese immigrants with promises of green cards.
In the fall, two other Flushing agencies, Guong Hua and Jin Quan, closed down. Hai said men and women have contacted him and other attorneys about scams at those businesses, whose owners are nowhere to be found.
The uproar over such agencies led state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) to reintroduce a bill sponsored by state Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing), establishing a system of regulations for the industry.
In the meantime, Hai said two men have been threatening him over his lawsuit against Cheung.
"They told me, 'Don't sue the Chinese people because you're going to get chopped,'" Hai said.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2003 Community News Group
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