Three Individuals Sentenced to Prison in Marriage Fraud Conspiracy
On September 26, 2016, three individuals were sentenced to prison for their participation in a long-running 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.
On July 19, 2016, a Miami federal jury convicted Odalys Marrero, 51, of Kendall, Rolando Mulet, 62, of Kendall and Javier Manejias, 51, of Antioch, Tennessee, 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. On September 26, 2016, United States District Court Judge Joan A. Lenard sentenced both Marrero and Mulet above the guideline range, to 48 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Judge Lenard sentenced Manejias to 8 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by 1 year of supervised release.
“It is a federal criminal offense to enter into a marriage for the purpose of evading our nation’s immigration rules and regulations,” stated U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “In committing this act, perpetrators exploit the lawful immigration status that the United States has granted. Such conduct thwarts the very objectives of our immigration laws and services, which are predicated on the honesty of the people who apply for immigration benefits. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is grateful for the ongoing efforts of ICE-HSI and USCIS to identify for prosecution those individuals who perpetrate this and other types of immigration fraud.”
“The defendants in this investigation defrauded the government and undermined the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system” said Mark Selby, special agent in charge of HSI Miami. “These arrests by HSI should send a clear message that we will continue to target those who try to obtain immigration benefits fraudulently.”
“Marriage fraud is a bold violation of our nation’s immigration laws,” said Acting District Director Nicholas Colucci of the USCIS Miami District. “We thank our partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and ICE for the opportunity to work together to ensure that these conspirators were brought to justice.”
At trial, the evidence showed that from 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 receipt of approximately $10,000 cash, 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 at trial also 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 falsified 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.
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.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.