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Make Fake Army, Go To Jail
April 14, 2011 6:57 AM   Subscribe

1) Make fake army 2) Collect Fees 3) Profit 4) Go to Jail - Yupeng Deng created the U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve Unit in Southern California for Asian immigrants. Unfortunately for all, the US Government wasn't aware of this... SGV Tribune story (pictures), NY Times story
posted by Argyle (42 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
?????
posted by leotrotsky at 7:06 AM on April 14, 2011


When investigators searched Mr. Deng’s residence, they also found evidence of child pornography on his home computer.

He sounds like a classy guy all-around.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 7:12 AM on April 14, 2011


You see.....if they were white, naturalized US citizens, they'd be hired as mercenaries contractors and sent to Iraq for $500k/year each.

Not that this alternative scenario is okay on any level. However, we currently do precisely that. Actually, I recall reading somewhere that it also is frequently exploited as a fast-track to a green card. Come to think of it, the entire situation is fucked up on more levels than I can possibly enumerate. I mean... we might as well recruit these guys into the real army, given that this guy seems to have done the hard part for us.
posted by schmod at 7:14 AM on April 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


A few officials, however, said there was always something off about the group.

"Their uniform didn't fit them. They didn't shine their boots," said Joaquin Lim, a city councilman from Walnut. "They even had typos and misspellings on their ID cards. They were a disgrace to the Army."


And, what, exactly, did you do about it? Oh, that's right - NOTHING. Fine work there, Lim.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 7:21 AM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Evil. But the chutzpah of this guy is something to behold. Running a long big store pretending to be the goddamn USA? If dude ever goes up in a poorly shielded spacecraft or gets bit by a radioactive anything we are all in trouble.
I did spend a few hours the other day reading about warlords and most especially the Taiping Rebellion so maybe I'm off base but dude just wasn't made for these times
posted by jtron at 7:31 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


When investigators searched Mr. Deng’s residence, they also found evidence of child pornography on his home computer.

Why does this line appear in so many reports when someone has been arrested for some other crime (be it drug dealing, fraud, immigration scams or whatever)? Are paedophilic tendencies massively over-represented amongst scammers and crooks? Is dealing in child porn a no-brainer way of making an extra buck for sociopathic individuals with established means of running scams? Do the police routinely plant child porn on suspects' computers to assist in getting convictions? Or is "evidence of child pornography" lazy-journalistese for "evidence of deleted files of unknown content" or "pornographic images whose models could possibly have been under 18" or something?

Granted, this guy could have been a nonce, but what are the odds?
posted by acb at 7:35 AM on April 14, 2011 [14 favorites]


The story claims he was running this out of a storefront, buying them uniforms and providing Id's and such.
It doesn't seem like he was taking in much money, at least not enough to make it worth while after expenses.
Or, they have the numbers wrong.

Schmod, your comment has no bearing on the post and is race baiting. Lame.
posted by a3matrix at 7:53 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why does this line appear in so many reports when someone has been arrested for some other crime (be it drug dealing, fraud, immigration scams or whatever)?

I think that the most likely explanation is that it must give the police huge leverage when interrogating suspects. It probably isn't even necessary to plant anything: such a sociopath is more likely to have a rather nasty porn collection, and I don't think the police will have qualms spinning the nastiest items as "child pornography". Even if the charge does not stick, it may be enough to turn any suspect into a terrified and highly cooperative wreck. Better to confess to any other charge than to be sent to jail with a "kiddie fiddler" tag hanging...
posted by Skeptic at 7:54 AM on April 14, 2011


Or is "evidence of child pornography" lazy-journalistese

I suspect that it's actually lazy-police-ish. It's a soundbite that can be said by the police to sound tough and make the perp sound worse, without actually being slander. Unless the porn clips are meticulously categorized and labeled (they never are!), one could claim that they're evidence of child pornography. That none of the evidence actually leads to a conviction is another thing entirely, and you'll note that they never say that it is child porn, only that it's evidence thereof.

It's almost too easy, actually: got rope on your boat? Evidence of aquatic auto-erotic asphyxiation.
posted by explosion at 7:58 AM on April 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's not only lazy-police-ish, it's lazy-journalist-ish. Any story that mentions child porn will attract readers for outragefilter.
posted by Melismata at 8:07 AM on April 14, 2011


My favourite bit of the tale is the kid who went back to China, was received as a dignitary and received an audience with a PLA commander. You can't make this shit up; they essentially went ahead and shanzaied the fucking US Army! Sleazeball alright, but breathtaking in ambition.
posted by the cydonian at 8:08 AM on April 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


  • From the article:
    "If convicted on all charges, he faces a maximum of more than 11 years in state prison."

  • From another article posted on the same day:
    "An 11-year prison sentence has been handed a Carbondale man found hauling several (read: 10) pounds of marijuana through Champaign County last year."

    When starting a private army while watching child pornography = walking around with 10 pounds of marijuana, you know the justice system done broke.

  • posted by lemuring at 8:10 AM on April 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


    Note that the 11 years maximum sentence includes the charges of child pornography.
    posted by lemuring at 8:11 AM on April 14, 2011


    explosion: " I suspect that it's actually lazy-police-ish. It's a soundbite that can be said by the police to sound tough and make the perp sound worse, without actually being slander. Unless the porn clips are meticulously categorized and labeled (they never are!), one could claim that they're evidence of child pornography."

    But it's likely they at least suspect the stuff is child porn, no? Wouldn't saying to the press so without at least a reasonable suspicion open the department up to a lawsuit?
    posted by zarq at 8:12 AM on April 14, 2011


    The Chinese will make fakes of anything.
    posted by bardic at 8:15 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


    But it's likely they at least suspect the stuff is child porn, no? Wouldn't saying to the press so without at least a reasonable suspicion open the department up to a lawsuit?

    Can you definitively tell a 17-year-old from a 18/19/20-year-old at a glance? If the actress is young-looking, who's to know if she's legal? It might be child porn! This video file is evidence!

    Depending on the culture of the police department, even an officer who knows better may say nothing:

    *Duh, that's Sasha Grey, she's older than 18, and even been on Entourage. Damn, don't want the boss to know that I know porn stars by name...*
    "Uh yeah, boss. Don't know who that girl could be! You're right, maybe she is under 18!"
    posted by explosion at 8:23 AM on April 14, 2011


    Also, LA cops. I mean, come on. For all we know, this guy could be a legit "Supreme Commander" of the US army and the LAPD just now figured out he's Asian.
    posted by Mooseli at 8:27 AM on April 14, 2011


    Schmod, your comment has no bearing on the post and is race baiting. Lame.

    No race bait derail intended. How does this differ from the private armies that Blackwater/Xi assemble, or the Army's recruitment of non-citizens with the promise of a fast-track to a green card?

    Sure, this guy misrepresented who he was, which is a pretty big deal TBH, but the idea of raising a private army is something that is already done quite frequently in the US these days. The story only seems to be treated as being outlandish because the group was assembled out of (and by) members of a single minority group. About 95% of the details (however absurd) of this story also apply to the probably-legal practices used by (slightly more scrupulous) defense contractors.

    Seems like his scam foreshadowed what could have been a great business opportunity.
    posted by schmod at 9:09 AM on April 14, 2011


    Depending on the culture of the police department, even an officer who knows better may say nothing:

    No, i understand that. I'm saying wouldn't it be better for the police to err on the side of caution and not say something like that, just in case the arrestee decides to sue them for libel later.
    posted by zarq at 9:17 AM on April 14, 2011


    This and the drug sub are the free market at work, guys. If there's a demand for something, someone will provide it. What's the big deal?
    posted by dubold at 9:18 AM on April 14, 2011


    This and the drug sub are the free market at work, guys. If there's a demand for something, someone will provide it. What's the big deal?

    Speaking of which, have you considered a life in the United States Under-Sea Special Forces Merchant Marine and Aluminum Storm Door Battalion (USUSSFMMASD)? We are currently recruiting, and for a small initial investment, you can have action, glamor, a cool uniform, and plenty of chances for promotion!
    posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:30 AM on April 14, 2011


    Do the police routinely plant child porn on suspects' computers to assist in getting convictions?

    Ding ding ding, we have a winner.

    Folks, this is why you should be using Truecrypt. Oh, and not doing things like running scams and etc. would be good, too.
    posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:34 AM on April 14, 2011


    When investigators searched Mr. Deng’s residence, they also found evidence of child pornography on his home computer.

    Why does this line appear in so many reports when someone has been arrested for some other crime (be it drug dealing, fraud, immigration scams or whatever)? Are paedophilic tendencies massively over-represented amongst scammers and crooks?


    It's the Garth Ennis Effect - all portrayals of villains need to make sure they reinforce that the Bad Guys are Very Very Very Bad, in every facet of their life, even ones unrelated to the narrative. Almost to the point of making it a punchline.
    posted by FatherDagon at 9:35 AM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


    a3matrix, I don't think schmod's comment is racist or race baiting. Can you give a persuasive argument that it is? This is too serious an allegation to be casually tossed at someone.
    posted by Daddy-O at 9:39 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


    You gotta think this guy wasn't in it for the money. He had a couple hundred people pay a few hundred bucks but at the same time he had a frickin' storefront and shelled out for uniforms and equipment.

    The real motivation might have been in the title he gave himself: "Supreme Commander".

    It's like he's a ten-year old boy in a 50 year old body.
    posted by storybored at 9:46 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


    It's like he's a ten-year old boy in a 50 year old body.

    A Peter Pan complex, a penchant for uniforms, and some unsavoury allegations.. sounds a bit like a parallel-universe Michael Jackson.
    posted by acb at 9:50 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


    Old'n'Busted: "Ding ding ding, we have a winner.

    Has "the videos weren't mine they were planted" ever been proven in a single child porn case?
    posted by zarq at 9:59 AM on April 14, 2011


    I’m so suspicious of the "child pornography" thing these days. It’s so incredibly easy to set someone up and no one will defend them. I’ve been reading about the witch trails lately and it’s not similar, it’s exactly the same thing, just substitute "child pornography" or "terrorist". You’re guilty, they make you try to name other guilty people, and anyone who speaks out on your behalf is probably guilty.

    Is anyone ever not guilty in a child pornography case? All I have to do is send you an email with a link to something, you now have child pornography on your computer.
    posted by bongo_x at 10:12 AM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


    So the cops went in with a warrant that said "evidence of scams and just in case, KIDDIE PORN!!!!" Yeah, I can see that. Clear probable cause. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
    posted by warbaby at 10:15 AM on April 14, 2011


    Ok, seriously, I don't see the difference between what Mr. Deng was doing and any local institution of higher learning. You pay fees to get in and to keep your membership (slightly higher than $300), they issue you with an ID, which many a goddamned underage student will promptly employ in the trial of purchasing alcoholic beverages and along with taking you out to field trips, these assrabbits in the college administration will keep you coming back and paying money with the promise that as long as you buy their overpriced textbooks at the company store they'll not only prepare you for the workforce but also find you a job.

    But Mr. Deng is the one doing the scamming. Ok.
    posted by jsavimbi at 11:16 AM on April 14, 2011


    This story would have made a great chapter in Catch 22 (apart from the child porn).
    posted by selton at 11:47 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


    Has "the videos weren't mine they were planted" ever been proven in a single child porn case?

    Well, when you get arrested, we'll be sure to find out.
    posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:51 AM on April 14, 2011


    Old'n'Busted: "Well, when you get arrested, we'll be sure to find out."

    Please. They'll never take me alive!
    posted by zarq at 12:17 PM on April 14, 2011


    These poor guys are paying to join the "Army" and I've worked with quite a few guys who would pay to get out. I think we can find an equitable trade in there...and frankly I'd rather work with someone who wants to be there.

    Jeez--planting child porn is sick. When did they graduate from merely planting guns or drugs on a person? Those seem like the good ol' days now...
    posted by ironbob at 2:14 PM on April 14, 2011


    ironbob: "When did they graduate from merely planting guns or drugs on a person? "

    Just to be clear, nobody's offered evidence yet in this thread that the Police have done so.
    posted by zarq at 2:23 PM on April 14, 2011


    Just to be clear, nobody's offered evidence yet in this thread that the Police have done so.

    Indeed. Deng could actually be a paedophile. Just like Lee Harvey Oswald could actually have acted alone in assassinating President Kennedy. (There are people who seriously propose this theory.)
    posted by acb at 2:37 PM on April 14, 2011


    How does this differ from the private armies that Blackwater/Xi assemble, or the Army's recruitment of non-citizens with the promise of a fast-track to a green card?

    1) There appears to be no evidence that this guy was recruiting a "private army" -- he was just scamming them.

    2) The U.S. military doesn't promise anyone a green card -- you have to already have one to enlist.

    But yeah, other than them being totally different, they're exactly alike, I guess.

    posted by Etrigan at 2:47 PM on April 14, 2011


    After Russell Williams, the Canadian Air Force pilot, was arrested for the murder of two women, he waived his right to a preliminary inquiry and pleaded guilty to all 82 Criminal Code charges filed against him, effectively confessing to rape, murder, breaking into young women's homes, stealing their underwear, and photographing himself in them. However:
    Police found child pornography on Russell Williams’s computer, but prosecutors didn’t lay charges because that would have been a deal-breaker in persuading him to plead guilty, says a new book about the sex predator who terrorized rural Eastern Ontario until his 2010 arrest.

    [...] To avoid having to go to trial, the prosecution and Mr. Williams’s defence agreed not to pursue accusations relating to the child porn in return for his guilty plea on other charges. [link]
    It's really fascinating to me being labelled a child pornographer has that much power...that a rapist and murderer would gladly confess to his crimes once caught, but refused to own up to that.

    Or, I suppose, he refused to confess to it because the porn was planted, but I'm not that cynical. Maybe I should be, but I'm not.
    posted by Ian A.T. at 3:47 PM on April 14, 2011


    Folks, this is why you should be using Truecrypt.

    "The suspect, known in underworld circles as Old'n'Busted, was using terrorist-level encryption to hide several large data files. “Pedophiles and drug smugglers have been known to use this encryption algorithm to conceal their activities,” said a spokesman. “Is it possible these files contain the nastiest, most abhorrent pornography you can imagine? Absolutely.”"
    posted by hattifattener at 6:43 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


    Guess everyone else who has commented has access to nytimes.com. I don't. It's frustrating to me when links to pay sites are included in meta posts.
    posted by parrot_person at 6:43 PM on April 14, 2011


    parrot_person, the first link is the LA Times and the second one is from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
    posted by Argyle at 7:43 PM on April 14, 2011


    ...and the NY Times isn't *really* a pay-site.
    posted by storybored at 6:17 AM on April 15, 2011


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