Boston...A Holyoke woman was sentenced today in federal court for marriage fraud and shielding illegal aliens.
Maria Helena-Knoller, 59, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor to four months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, including six months of home confinement and forfeiture of over $225,000. Knoller pleaded guilty on Feb. 9, 2011 to arranging fraudulent marriages and shielding illegal aliens.
From 2003 to June 5, 2008, Knoller arranged over 50 fraudulent marriages between her clients and American citizens. The purpose of the fraudulent marriages was to obtain immigration benefits for Knoller’s clients. Knoller charged her clients up to $8,000 each to arrange a fraudulent marriage and afterwards often assisted her clients in obtaining a change in their immigration status based upon the fraudulent marriage. During the execution of a search warrant at Knoller’s residence, federal agents seized over 60 gold rings which Knoller would have given to future clients to help conceal the fraudulent marriages. The agents also seized over $117,000 in cash, which was money Knoller had been paid for her marriage fraud.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Regan of Ortiz’s Springfield Office.