News and Press Releases

Defendant Advised Immigrants to Lie about Sexual Orientation

April 28, 2009

STEVEN MAHONEY, 41, of Kent, Washington pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Conspiracy to Commit Immigration Fraud. MAHONEY, who operated Mahoney and Associates, an immigration consulting business, in Kent, Washington, faces up to 5 years in prison when sentenced on August 21, 2009, by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour.

According to records filed in the case, from October 1998 through June 2007, MAHONEY counseled, advised, and prepared immigration applications for immigrants seeking legal status in the United States. Over that time period MAHONEY admits that he filed up to 99 false immigration documents seeking legal status based on asylum claims. The false applications stated that the applicants were seeking asylum in the United States based on claims that, if they were returned to their home countries, they would be targeted and abused because they were homosexual, or tortured due to their religious practices or political views. MAHONEY’s ex-wife and co-defendant, Helen Mahoney, assisted with completing and submitting the false applications to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). MAHONEY and Helen Mahoney knew that these statements were not true for certain applicants. MAHONEY coached the applicants on how to pursue immigration status based on these false claims. MAHONEY was paid between $1,000 and $4,000 for each of the falsified applications. Helen Mahoney is scheduled for a plea hearing later this week.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement strives to protect the integrity of our nation’s immigration system by investigating those who engage in this type of fraudulent and illegal activity,” said Leigh Winchell, Special Agent in Charge of ICE’s Office of Investigations in Seattle. “ICE will continue to identify, arrest and bring to justice those who are involved in these types of schemes.”

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and USCIS. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ye-Ting Woo and Jill Otake.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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