Alumnus pleads guilty to 10 counts in fraud case
May 15, 2008 3:56 PM
In an international case of violin crime, an SF State alumnus will be facing up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines after pleading guilty Monday to a scheme that cheated collectors out of valuable violins and bows over a span of four years.
A federal grand jury in San Francisco had previously indicted Joseph Tang, 28, on charges of mail and wire fraud in connection with the sale and consignment of fine violins, violas and bows, according to a Department of Justice press release.
Joseph Hokai Tang graduated from SF State in 2002 with a master’s degree in music. The events that led to his incarceration began as early as April 2002 and continued until 2006, according to the indictment.
The plea agreement signed on May 5 included two counts of wire fraud and eight counts of mail fraud. The prosecution is the result of a two-and-a-half-year investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, according to the DOJ.
“Specifically, I made up a scheme to sell fine violins and instrument bows, in which I falsely misrepresented the condition and/or authenticity of the items in order to sell them,” Tang’s signed plea agreement read. “Furthermore, I also received violins and bows pursuant to consignment agreements, knowing that I would not return the money, violins, and bows to their owners as I had promised.”
This scheme included at least 10 victims—one as far away as Germany—and losses of almost $400,000, a cost he may have to pay back in restitution as outlined in his maximum penalties. Tang is a Canadian citizen and could face deportation.
Tang is now awaiting sentencing. Public defender Eric Hairston, part of Tang’s defense team, declined to comment on the case, except to say that Tang probably will not be deported.
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