"Laughing, he admitted that 'we've been doing this for years. … No worries,'" prosecutors said.
Yuen was charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit.
Working through recruiting agencies in New Jersey, California, Illinois, New York and Virginia, the defendants obtained false documents for 1,076 foreigners "All of whom were willing participants in the scheme," Fishman said.
"Virtually every defendant knowingly purchased fake documents from the undercover university, including fraudulent transcripts with made up classes and grades, diplomas, attendance sheets, student ID cards, sham receipts and even phony parking passes," he said.
Authorities did not arrest any of the foreign students who sought to take advantage of the scheme, although prosecutors said they would have their visa statuses revoked and could face deportation.
Some of the defendants also allegedly pushed the fake UNNJ administrators to create a fake IT program in order to create a paper trail for the recruiters to obtain false work visas.
All 21 suspects were charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud. All but two face an additional count of conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit. The other two suspects were charged with making false statements and H1-B Visa fraud.
Charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and making false statements carry a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine, if the defendants are convicted. Charges of conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit and H1-B Visa fraud carry maximum sentences of 10 years and a $250,000 fine.