RINGLEADER OF MARRIAGE FRAUD SCHEME
SENTENCED TO 15 MONTHS IN FEDERAL PRISON
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that BAHIJA SAADOUN, 37, of West Haven, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Mark R. Kravitz in New Haven to 15 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for engineering a marriage fraud scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in November 2010, ICE Homeland Security Investigations initiated an investigation into fraudulent marriages that had been arranged between Moroccan nationals and U.S. citizens in order for the Moroccan nationals to unlawfully immigrate to the U.S. The investigation, which included the use of consensual recordings, an examination of immigration and airline records, and other information, revealed that the U.S. citizens received money and trips to Morocco for participating in the scheme. Based on fraudulent representations made by the U.S. citizens to U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Services, the Moroccan citizens were granted conditional green cards.
The investigation further revealed that Saadoun entered the U.S. more than a decade ago after receiving a student visa to attend a college in Florida. However, Saadoun settled in Connecticut and never went to college. In recent years, Saadoun recruited U.S. citizens to enter into fraudulent marriages with her Moroccan relatives, including her brother, Rachid Saadoun, her sister, Fatima Saadoun, and her brother-in-law Khalid Kassem. Bahija Saadoun also assisted her cousin, Fouad Elhadiri, to help bring his brother to the U.S. through a fraudulent marriage. As part of the scheme, Saadoun created false documents on fake letterhead to support her family members’ residency applications.
After their marriages, Bahija Saadoun’s relatives and Elhadiri’s brother never lived with their spouses in the U.S.
On December 21, 2011, Saadoun pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. She has been detained since her arrest on October 6, 2011.
Nine individuals, including three U.S. citizens who agreed to enter into fraudulent marriages, were charged as a result of this investigation. All have pleaded guilty.
This matter has been investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s ICE Homeland Security Investigations and Citizenship and Immigration Services, Office of Fraud Detection and National Security Unit. The Connecticut State Police, and the Norwalk, Trumbull, Bridgeport and Naugatuck Police Departments have assisted the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rahul Kale.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONTACT:
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE