Key Member of a Marriage Fraud Ring Sentenced
NORFOLK, Va. – Jermar Jones, 27, of Hampton, Va., was sentenced today in Norfolk federal court to four years and four months in prison for his role as a key member of a marriage fraud ring involving sham marriages arranged between Navy sailors and illegal aliens.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after Jones was sentenced by United States District Judge Mark S. Davis. A federal jury convicted Jones on October 31, 2011 of eleven counts of conspiracy, marriage fraud, false claims against the government, witness tampering, and false statements.
According to court records and evidence at trial, Jones personally arranged fraudulent marriages between Navy sailors from his ship and illegal aliens from his home country of Grenada or from Trinidad. At different times in 2007 and in March 2008, Jones took the sailors and their newly-introduced future spouses to marriage officiants in Hampton and Newport News to get married and then to nearby courthouses to apply for marriage certificates. The scheme was designed to obtain benefits based on being married. The sailor would receive extra pay from the Navy and the illegal alien would have an easier path to citizenship. Jones instructed the sailors on what papers to submit to the Navy in order to receive the basic allowance for housing (BAH) benefit, which nearly doubled their base pay. Based on this aspect of the fraud, the court also found that Jones and his Navy co-conspirators are required to pay back to the Navy the more than $134,000 in fraudulent payments they received. From at least one of the illegal aliens, Jones was to receive a set fee on the order of $6,000.
The court’s sentence was also based on evidence that Jones pressured and threatened other members of the conspiracy when they did not follow through with the fraud, as well as the threats and intimidation by Jones when NCIS agents began investigating the scheme. He physically confronted potential witnesses and told them such things as he knew where they lived and to keep their mouths shut. Furthermore, not only did Jones provide a false statement to investigators about his involvement in the conspiracy, the court found that Jones gave false testimony at trial.
This case was investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Assistant United States Attorneys Randy Stoker and Joseph DePadilla prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.