Woman accused of document and visa fraud

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YAPING Tao, a citizen of the People’s Republic of China accused of document and visa fraud, appeared on Tuesday before District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona.

At the hearing, court-appointed defense attorney Colin Thompson requested the court for a continuance, which Judge Manglona granted.

When the hearing resumed on Sept. 17,  Assistant U.S Attorney Eric O’Malley did not seek detention for Tao.

Judge Manglona released Tao under her own recognizance and ordered her to immediately report to the U.S. Marshals Service for processing.

The judge also reset Tao’s preliminary hearing and arraignment for Oct 7. at 9 a.m.

Mike Yang served as the interpreter for Tao who is charged with conspiracy to commit the offense of fraud in connection with visas, and fraud and misuse of visas, permits and other documents.

According to the complaint filed by Homeland Security Investigation special agent David West, he conducted an immigration record check on Tao after identifying a vehicle registered in her name.

West said he determined that Tao had no legal immigration status to be in the U.S.

West also said he contacted the CNMI Bureau of Motor Vehicles to verify if Tao had ever applied for a CNMI driver’s license.

BMV confirmed that Tao applied for two separate CNMI driver’s licenses in 2012 and 2015, West said.

Tao, through an interpreter, told the HSI investigator that she obtained her first driver’s license legally in 2012 by taking a written test and a driving test.

Tao said she cannot read English, but had passed the written test on the first try by guessing the answers.

Tao said when her 2012 driver’s license was about to expire, she started asking people how she could renew her driver’s license.

According to West,  “A friend told Tao about an unnamed Chinese woman that could help her get a driver’s license.”

Tao said she knew that she could not renew her driver’s license because she did not have legal immigration status, but she paid a friend $250-$300 to help renew her driver’s license.

Tao said she signed a blank BMV application and gave her old CNMI driver’s license to her friend.

After paying the fee, Tao stated she went to BMV and only had to take a photo for her license. She said she never submitted any documents to BMV.

Tao said the 2015 BMV driver’s license application had her signature, but she was not sure who completed the rest of the aplication.

She said she had never seen the CW-1 visa that was submitted with her application, adding that she does not know what the person did to renew her driver’s license, but knew it was illegal.

West said Tao entered the CNMI prior to the federalization of local immigration.


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