Published: Nov. 2, 2010
Updated: 7:48 a.m.

Man sentenced in student-visas scheme


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SANTA ANA – A man who orchestrated a scheme to take tests on behalf of foreign students so they could remain in the country under student visas was sentenced Monday to five months in federal custody and five months of home detention.

Eamonn Daniel Higgins of Laguna Niguel pleaded guilty on April to a charge of conspiracy to commit visa fraud. According to authorities, Higgins and other people he recruited posed as foreign students in universities in the area, including Irvine Valley and Saddleback colleges.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Eamonn Daniel Higgins used fraudulant California Drivers Licenses with his picture and a foreign student's name to gain access to test-taking centers at colleges throughout Southern California.COURTESY OF IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT

The 46-year-old man was a legitimate tutor at one point, but beginning in 2002, Higgins began the scheme.

At least 119 students, all men from Middle Eastern countries, are believed to have paid Higgins for the illegal services.

The terms of the plea agreement between Higgins and prosecutors remains under seal, City News Service reported. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are still investigating the scheme.

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