Former Houston law office employee pleads guilty to immigration fraud | January 9th, 2010 at 8:37 am

.HOUSTON – A former employee of a Houston law office has pleaded guilty to conspiring to file false asylum applications on behalf of Chinese nationals who claimed they were being persecuted in China for practicing Christianity, U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson announced Friday. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Department of Labor – Office of Inspector.

Elizabeth Jones, aka Elizabeth Tsai, 52, pleaded guilty to the charge before U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon this morning. Jones was indicted in August 2007 and arrested in Hong Kong in January 2008. After waiving her right to an extradition hearing in Hong Kong, Jones was returned to Houston to face charges.

According to Jones’s plea agreement, from 1999 through 2003, the law office for which Jones worked filed approximately 70 asylum applications on behalf of Chinese nationals that listed persecution based on practicing Christianity as the grounds for asylum. This was an unusually high number of applications from one law firm, claiming the same type of persecution and similar details of the claimed torture in the applications. An investigation by federal agents revealed the law office routinely provided clients seeking asylum with a Chinese-language document titled “Basic Facts About Christianity.