Three Individuals Convicted at Trial in Marriage Fraud Conspiracy
On July 18, 2016, three individuals were convicted at trial for their participation in a fourteen defendant marriage fraud conspiracy.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Mark Selby, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), made the announcement.
Odalys Marrero, 51, of Kendall, Rolando Mulet, 62, of Kendall and Javier Manejias, 51, of Antioch, Tennessee, were convicted by a Miami federal jury of conspiring to defraud the United States. Marrero and Mulet were also convicted of additional counts of unlawfully encouraging an alien to reside in the United States. The defendants face a statutory maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, as to the conspiracy charge. Marrero and Mulet also face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, for each of the additional counts of conviction. The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on September 26, 2016 before United States District Judge Joan A. Lenard.
According to the court record, including evidence presented during the three-week long trial, between December 2009 and July 2014, organizers Marrero and Mulet recruited Cuban citizens to enter into fraudulent marriages with undocumented aliens for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States. Manejias was one such Cuban citizen, who, in exchange for money, participated in the conspiracy by agreeing with Marrero and Mulet to marry a Venezuelan citizen in order to secure her lawful permanent residency in the United States.
The evidence as trial established that Marrero and Mulet charged these aliens tens of thousands of dollars in cash to arrange the fraudulent marriages, notarize marriage licenses, complete the necessary immigration paperwork, and prepare the co-conspirators for their marriage interviews with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). This preparation included Marrero and Mulet directing the couples to conduct a fraudulent wedding ceremony and submit supporting documents such as joint utility bills and bank statements to make it appear that they couple lived together, though in fact they did not. As part of the scheme, these contrived photos and documents were provided to USCIS.
Of the fourteen defendants charged in the indictment, ten of the co-conspirators previously pled guilty for their participation in the fraudulent scheme. Those defendants, including Venezuelan and Colombian nationals, Katiusca Aguilar Navarro, Manuel Andres Gomez, Natacha Perera, Marianelly Auxiliado Rodriguez, and Okyvi Yoll Mesa, each paid tens of thousands of dollars to enter into fraudulent marriages with co-conspirator Cuban nationals Carlos Alberto Mederos Paule, Virginia De la Caridad Mederos Paule, Osvaldo Lastre Duran, Rafael Abreu Gonzalez, and Salvador Cabanas. All of these fraudulent marriages took place in the Southern District of Florida.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI. Mr. Ferrer also recognized USCIS for the significant and valuable support the agency provided the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anne P. McNamara and Special Assistant United States Attorney Michele Vigilance.