Wednesday, July 7, 1999

Attorney going to prison
for wire, visa fraud

By Debra Barayuga


A Honolulu attorney convicted of preparing fraudulent visa applications and stealing money from clients will serve 41 months in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway yesterday also sentenced S. Jay Matsumaru, 44, to three years of supervised release and ordered $50,000 restitution to one of the victims.

A federal jury in January found Matsumaru, a Japanese citizen, guilty of two counts of wire fraud, two counts of visa fraud and one count of establishing a commercial enterprise to violate immigration laws.

Matsumaru received 41 months on each count to run concurrently and also faces deportation.

He was facing a maximum five years on each wire fraud count and commercial enterprise violation and a maximum 10 years on each visa fraud count.

Defense attorneys for Matsumaru say they will appeal his conviction. "We don't believe the evidence sustained a conviction and hope it will be overturned on appeal," said William L. Osterhoudt.

Matsumaru feels "deep sadness" for the impact the charges has had on his family and friends, Osterhoudt said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Omer Poirier said Matsumaru defrauded his Japanese national clients by having them set up companies that wired him money for purposes of submitting applications for treaty investor visas.

Treaty investor visas are granted to foreign nationals who make substantial investments in the United States.

Matsumaru diverted the wired money -- totaling $711,000 -- for his personal use, Poirier said. "This was out and out theft."

He took advantage of people who put trust in him as their lawyer and as an "officer of the court" lied to the U.S. government, Poirier said.

Osterhoudt argued that until his client's conviction, Matsumaru, who has practiced law for more than 10 years, has been law-abiding.

Characterizing his victims as "vulnerable" distorts sentencing guidelines, which call for additional prison time for offenses against the young, old and the sick, he said "They were sophisticated businessmen who received the benefit of what they bargained for."

Poirier said Matsumaru targeted specific clients by placing Japanese ads and took advantage of the fact that they couldn't speak English and were unfamiliar with aspects of doing business in the United States.

Mollway said Matsumaru's actions violated the attorney's professional code of ethics and negatively impacts the public's views concerning the integrity of the legal profession.

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