The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently issued a press release that exposed an organization that creates sham marriages for those intending to obtain U.S. Green Cards for citizens of foreign countries. This case might be an eye opener for people nationwide, including Michigan, to learn about the potential consequences of committing white collar crimes. In this case, 96 people face federal charges after they were indicted for marriage fraud in another state.
ICE alleges that the suspected criminal organization created 150 fake marriages since 2013. Court documents indicate that the primary defendant regarded as the head of the organization allegedly collected money from beneficiary spouses. The number of benefits they received determined the amount they had to pay, which ranged between $50,000 and $75,000 -- the latter being the cost of full U.S. permanent resident status. Other benefits included admission into the United States and conditional permanent residency.
ICE further alleges that the service included fake wedding albums along with fraudulent employment, utility and tax information. Furthermore, couples committed to these fraudulent marriages allegedly met only briefly, or not at all, often just before obtaining their marriage licenses. These couples allegedly had no intention to live together, despite the official statements and documents the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service received from them. ICE reports that the charges include marriage fraud, mail fraud, immigration fraud and providing false statements under oath.
Although the indictment on the federal charges happened in another state, Michigan residents might be interested to learn that convictions on all these charges could lead to federal prison sentences of 20 years. Anyone who is accused of being involved in such schemes would likely seek the best possible defense. They can improve their chances of escaping prison time by retaining the services of a criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in defending those who face white collar crimes.