Two men who allegedly offered a State Department official $20,000 a month to provide valid U.S. visas for sale to Taiwan nationals were arrested yesterday by federal agents in a Washington hotel room after handing the official $10,000 in cash, prosecutors charged.
Both defendants were charged with bribery. They were identified as Charles R. Collin, 63, the honorary consul of Monaco stationed in Lima, Peru, and Chen Yu-fan, also known as Chester Chen, 44, of Taipei. Prosecutors said both were arrested by U.S. marshals about noon at the Holiday Inn at 2101 Wisconsin Ave. NW.
The prosecutors said the American official, Cecil Richardson, chief of the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, the Bahamas, spoke with Collin three times before yesterday's meeting.
Richardson was never a suspect and cooperated with authorities, officials said.
U.S. Magistrate Patrick J. Attridge yesterday ordered Collin and Chen held on $25,000 bond each. Attridge postponed a full hearing until today to get translators because both men said they do not speak English.
"The bribe went down in English," said Assistant U.S. Attorney E. Lawrence Barcella Jr. Prosecutor Richard Chapman said outside the courtroom that there was "a good chance" the hotel-room scene was videotaped.
Prosecutors charged in court papers that Collin spoke to Richardson by telephone on Sept. 27 about Collin's offer of $20,000 a month for the visas. In an Oct. 4 telephone conversation, prosecutors said, Collin agreed to meet Richardson in D.C.
At the meeting, prosecutors said, Chen handed $10,000 in cash to Collin, who then handed it to Richardson before marshals entered the room and made the arrests.