News and Press Releases

Third of Some Thirty Defendants Charged with Accepting Trips and Cash to Engage in Sham Marriages

October 6, 2006

JARNO OJALA, 29, of Redmond, Oregon, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to six months of electronic home monitoring, three years of probation and must forfeit $1500 to the government for Conspiracy to Commit Visa Fraud. OJALA is one of some 30 people identified by law enforcement as having accepted trips and cash to travel to Vietnam to pose as a fiance as part of a Visa fraud conspiracy. In addition OJALA recruited others to join the scheme. 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, and an additional eight mid-level defendants have been indicted since then.

OJALA traveled to Vietnam four times as part of the scheme. He even participated in a sham marriage ceremony in Tacoma in November 2001. OJALA recruited several other men to become sham grooms. Law enforcement identified over 130 fraudulent fiancé visa applications connected to the scheme.

The ringleaders of the visa fraud scheme were sentenced in June 2006, to three years in prison.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the States 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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