POMONA, CA - A California man faces charges he recruited 100 Chinese nationals into a phony Army unit as a way to U.S. citizenship, authorities said Tuesday.
Yupeng Deng, 51 of El Monte, also known as David Deng, was being held in lieu of $500,000 bail after being charged with 13 counts of theft by false pretenses, manufacturing deceptive government documents and counterfeit of an official government seal, Jane Robison of the Los Angeles district attorney's office told the Los Angeles Times. He is to be arraigned Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pomona.
Deng also has been charged separately with one count of possession of child pornography.
Authorities allege Deng created what he called the U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit and talked other Chinese nationals into joining as "a path to U.S. citizenship."
Calling himself the "Supreme Commander," Deng allegedly charged each recruit initiation fees of as much as $450 and a $125 annual renewal fee. Donating more money could gain recruits a higher rank, authorities say.
Deng allegedly provided his recruits with fake U.S. Army uniforms, phony documents and military ID cards.
The recruits even marched in a parade in a public park and toured the U.S. Midway museum in San Diego while dressed in uniform, Robison said.