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Press Release

Jury Convicts Utica Woman Of Marriage Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York
U.S. Citizen Convicted of Sham Marriage to Gambian Man Who Committed Fraud

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Yesterday, a federal court jury convicted Zubeda Kalume, 42, of Utica, of entering into a fraudulent marriage for the purpose of allowing a Gambian man to unlawfully remain in the United States, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Brian Devine, Resident Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, Syracuse Office. Kalume is a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from the Congo. The jury reached its verdict following a four day trial.

United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian said: "United States citizenship is not for sale. People who commit marriage fraud damage the integrity of our immigration system. We are committed to enforcing these laws to ensure that those who abuse the process do not cause harm or jeopardize the opportunities for lawful immigration."

"Marriage fraud is a federal crime and unfortunately one that is all too common," said Brian Devine, resident agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Syracuse. "Schemes like this not only damage the integrity of America’s legal immigration system, but they could also be exploited by individuals who pose a significant risk to our nation's security. We applaud the U.S. Attorney's office for pursuing these violations vigorously and thank our federal partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their instrumental efforts throughout the course of this investigation."

The evidence at trial that established Kalume and Alieu Jaiteh, 32, a citizen of The Gambia, were married in Dewitt, New York in October 2009. Jaiteh, who had entered the country on an F-1 student visa, violated its terms and was in the United States illegally at the time of the marriage. Kalume agreed to marry Jaiteh for $10,000 and later assisted him in getting temporary legal immigration status. Jaiteh, who resides in Syracuse, was himself convicted for conspiring from 2009 to 2012 to commit more than $1.7 million in federal food stamp fraud and was sentenced to 18 months in prison in April 2015.

Zubeda Kalume faces a maximum of 5 years in prison, a 3 year term of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 for her conviction for marriage fraud. Chief United States District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby has scheduled her sentencing for April 28, 2016 in Syracuse.

These convictions are the culmination of a joint investigation conducted by Special Agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General and the investigative component of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York in Syracuse. Substantial assistance was also provided throughout the investigation by the Onondaga County Department of Social Services’ Welfare Fraud Unit, Oneida County Social Services, and the New York State Police. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Geoffrey Brown.

Updated February 4, 2016