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Sunday, August 12, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor sentenced to prison

TACOMA -- A pastor has been sentenced to spend 4 1/2 years in prison for filing fake visa applications.

Dong Wan Park, 53, of Tacoma was found guilty last summer of filing false religious worker visa applications for two Korean nationals in exchange for tens of thousand in cash.

On bond after being convicted in 2006, Park sold his Hope Korean Church for $448,595, wired $290,000 to a bank in South Korea and fled to Mexico with his wife, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Once there, authorities said, he told the Mexican police he had lost his travel documents and with the false police report went to the Korean consulate in Mexico City and applied for temporary Korean travel documents.

According to court records, by June 23, 2006, Park went to Canada, then Korea where he was arrested and convicted for passport fraud. Because Park is a U.S. citizen, he was deported to the U.S.

In April, he pleaded guilty to one count of failure to appear and one count of transportation of stolen property. Park had created a false document showing his church board approved the sale of the church real estate. According to follow-up investigation, the church did not have a board at the time.

In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. Court District Judge Ronald Leighton ordered Park to pay $290,000 in restitution and a $250,000 fine.