Indictments in Va. marriage scam
Seventeen people are accused of participating in a scheme that paired Navy personnel with Russian women for bogus marriages, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride announced the charges after a 28-count federal indictment was unsealed in federal court in Norfolk. All the defendants have been arrested.
The charges are a “result of our ongoing effort to crack down on allegations of sham marriages in the Navy,” MacBride said in a statement. “To date, nearly 80 people have been charged with this scheme to pair Navy servicemen with Russian women in fake marriages.” According to the indictment, the scheme allowed the women to get an immigration benefit, while the Navy personnel filed for additional pay based on the sham marriages.
Charges include conspiracy, marriage fraud, false claims, theft of government property, false statements related to naturalization or citizenship and naturalization fraud.
The indictments are the latest in a long list of attempts by federal prosecutors to crack down on marriage fraud scams nationwide.
“Fraudulent marriage schemes undermine the integrity of our immigration system,” John P. Torres, special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, said in a news release. “These sham marriages create a vulnerability in which foreign nationals may gain entry to and remain in the United States for employment or more nefarious purposes.” On Tuesday, a former Virginia Beach police officer was sentenced to two years in prison for his admitted role in a marriage fraud case. Andrey Savelyev was sentenced on a conspiracy charge related to the bogus matchmaking and lying to the FBI.
According to court records, the 41-year-old defendant became an enforcer in a sham marriage between a Russian woman and an enlisted Navy man when the sailor became fearful of his own arrest and tried to get a divorce.
-- Associated Press
Washington Post editors
| May 5, 2010; 10:50 AM ET
Categories: Crime and Public Safety, Virginia | Tags: Fraud, Marriage, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
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