NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A New York-based technical school was closed Thursday afternoon, as administrators were hit with fraud charges – accused of allegedly issuing phony student visas.
As CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported, the Micropower Career Institute’s five campuses in New York City, New Jersey and on Long Island have been shut down as part of the federal investigation.
Homeland Security and State Department investigators were at the West 25th Street campus in Chelsea looking for evidence in a case involving allegations of visa and financial fraud, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
Students at the Chelsea campus were turned away when they arrived for class Thursday to make room for the federal investigators conducting the extensive raid, CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported.
Five Micropower administrators, including the president, vice president and chief executive officer, were arrested Thursday morning on several charges including student financial aid fraud, visa fraud and conspiracy, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported.
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In a video on the website for the school, an executive says, “For more than 20 years, we’ve been helping several countries learn to be more fluent speakers of English.” The company website boasts it helps international students get visas.
But the U.S. Attorney said Micropower also provided them to people who were not students – undocumented immigrants who paid to be listed as students.
Micropower got its cash and extra financial aid funding from the government.
Defendants were also accused of issuing fraudulent visas to legitimate students, such as Miki Kon from Malaysia.
“I’m going to double check my visa,” Kon said, “because it’s going to affect my studies; my future.”
“That’s the only thing I’m depending on for my stay here,” said student Gale Balbin.
Micropower is also a trade school for local students. On Thursday afternoon, they did not know when classes would resume – if at all.
“I’m disappointed because it’s messing with our career, basically,” said student Rachel Morales. “Like, we chose to come to school, and all of this now this is happening? It’s not fair.”
Teachers were also worried, and were stunned after hearing about the charges.
“They look like thieves or something, you know? I don’t believe it,” said teacher Khalid Labadi.
The defendants face up to 20 years if convicted. It was unclear Thursday afternoon what would happen to Micropower or its students.
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