News and Press Releases

First of Some Thirty Defendants Who Accepted Trips and Cash to Engage in Sham Marriages

June 9, 2006

RYAN DANIELS, 28, of Puyallup, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to four months of electronic home monitoring and two years of probation for Conspiracy to Commit Visa Fraud. DANIELS is one of some thirty people identified by law enforcement as having accepted trips and cash to travel to Vietnam to pose as a fiancé as part of a Visa fraud conspiracy. The investigation of the conspiracy, dubbed “Operation Pit Boss” because many of the conspirators were recruited at casinos, resulted in indictments against six main targets in early 2005.

DANIELS is the first of the “travelers” to be sentenced in the case. He pleaded guilty in March 2006, admitting that he traveled to Vietnam five times to have photos taken with the women who would get a fiancé visa as part of the sham marriage scheme. Law enforcement identified over 130 fraudulent fiancé visa applications connected to the scheme.

The ringleaders of the visa fraud scheme are scheduled to be sentenced later this month.

At the sentencing today U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton stressed the seriousness of Visa Fraud, noting that the border integrity of the United States is of much greater concern than it was a decade ago.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service with assistance from the Washington State Gambling Commission. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Thomas and Douglas B. Whalley.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorneys Office at (206) 553-4110.

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