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Police: Chinese national created fake Army special forces unit

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Police: Yupeng Deng called himself the unit's "supreme commander"
  • Recruits allegedly paid initiation and renewal fees
  • They marched in a parade and visited a museum in uniform

Los Angeles (CNN) -- A Chinese national living in California allegedly created a false Army special forces unit, providing recruits with false documents and uniforms and even marching with them in a parade, authorities said.

Yupeng Deng, 51, also known as David Deng, was arrested Tuesday morning by agents from the FBI and the U.S. Department of Defense, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said in a statement. He faces 13 counts of theft by false pretenses, manufacturing deceptive government documents and counterfeit of an official government seal.

Deng, of El Monte, California, a Los Angeles suburb, allegedly recruited more than 100 other Chinese nationals into the unit, dubbed the U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit, telling them it was a path to U.S. citizenship, authorities said. He allegedly called himself "supreme commander" of the unit, created in October 2008.

Recruits were allegedly charged initiation fees ranging from $300 to $450, with annual renewal fees of $120, according to Deputy District Attorney Richard Ceballos. In addition, authorities said, recruits could increase their rank in the fraudulent unit by making cash donations to Deng.

The recruits were provided with phony U.S. Army uniforms, fake documents and fraudulent military identification cards, authorities said. Deng also allegedly instructed them to report to his office in the Los Angeles suburb of Temple City -- which authorities said was decorated to look like an official U.S. military recruiting center -- to undergo training and indoctrination, according to prosecutors.

"These recruits even marched in a parade in Monterey Park and took a tour of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, all while dressed in uniform," the district attorney's statement said.

Deng is to be arraigned Wednesday in Pomona Superior Court. If convicted as charged, he would face up to eight years and four months in state prison.

In a separate case, Deng also was charged last week with one count of possession of child pornography, stemming from a search warrant executed at his home. Authorities investigating the document case allegedly found child pornography on a computer, prosecutors said. He is set for arraignment in that case April 18 and would face up to three years in state prison if convicted.