June 30, 2011 / 12:45 AM / 8 years ago

California man pleads guilty to creating fake Army unit

Yupeng Deng (C) poses with his troops in an undated photo. REUTERS/FBI/DCIS

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man who conned Chinese immigrants into joining his fake U.S. Army unit was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to counterfeiting and other charges.

Yupeng Deng gave himself the title “Supreme Commander” when he was running his fictitious unit, and he promised recruits their time in his squad was a path to U.S. citizenship.

A Chinese national from the Los Angeles suburb of El Monte, Deng convinced over 200 Chinese nationals from around the United States to join, and charged them initiation fees ranging from $300 to $450.

He was arrested in April following an investigation by the FBI and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

Deng, 51, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges of theft by false pretenses, manufacturing deceptive government documents and counterfeit of an official government seal.

Investigators also found child pornography when they served a search warrant at his home, and as a result Deng also pleaded guilty to possessing the porn.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jack Hunt sentenced Deng to three years in prison.

Deng gave his recruits military uniforms, had them parade in a Los Angeles suburb, and took them to the decommissioned USS Midway aircraft carrier, which is a museum in San Diego, authorities said.

He called his bogus squad the U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit, or MSFR for short.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Peter Bohan

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