Utica Woman To Serve Prison Term in Marriage Fraud Case
U.S. Citizen Sentenced For Sham Marriage to Gambian Man Who Committed Fraud
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Zubeda Kalume, 42, of Utica was sentenced yesterday to serve 14 months imprisonment and a 3 year term of supervised release, and to pay a $100 special assessment, following her conviction after trial for 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 who was found guilty after a 4-day jury trial in December 2015.
In sentencing Kalume, Chief United States District Court Judge Glenn T. Suddaby noted that while fraudulently holding herself out to federal immigration officials as lawfully married, she was simultaneously representing to other agencies that she was a single mother in her applications for food stamp benefits, Section 8 housing benefits, and day care benefits.
"As this sentence makes clear, America’s legal immigration system is not for sale. We are committed to fighting fraud and deceit for profit so immigration benefits are not drained away from those who deserve them," said United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian.
"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 established that 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. Zubeda Kalume agreed to marry Jaiteh for $10,000 and later assisted him in getting temporary legal immigration status. Alieu Jaiteh, of Syracuse, New York, 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.
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. 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.