Five Charged in Scheme to Commit Marriage Fraud
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
HOUSTON – A total of five Houston residents have been charged in a seven-count indictment alleging their involvement in a marriage fraud scheme involving Nigerian nationals, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in Houston. This indictment is the result of a previous indictment charging six defendants, who were all convicted earlier this year.
The indictment was returned under seal Nov. 18, 2015, and unsealed today. Folarin H. Alabi, 33, Justice Daniel, 40, and Ifeoma Adamolekun, 39, all of Houston, were taken into custody today and will make their initial appearances in federal court at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon.
Letrishia A. Andrews, 36, also of Houston, was in state custody on unrelated charges and made her initial appearance in federal court this morning. At that time, U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy ordered she be detained pending further criminal proceedings.
A final defendant – Charles R. Warren, 43 – is considered a fugitive and a warrant remains outstanding for his arrest. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact ICE-HSI at 281-985-0500.
The five defendants allegedly conspired together in connection with a marriage fraud ring involving arranged “sham” marriages between recruited U.S. citizens and Nigerian nationals. A “sham” marriage is a marriage that is entered into for the primary purpose of circumventing the immigration laws.
“Becoming an American citizen is an honor and a privilege,” said Moskowitz. “Obtaining citizenship through fraud is an affront to every person who has played by the rules and it threatens the integrity of our legal immigration system. ICE-HSI special agents will continue to work with our partners to ensure that those who use criminal and dishonorable means to achieve the most honorable of goals are brought to justice.”
The indictment alleges conspirators would pay U.S. citizens for entering into fraudulent marriages to Nigerian nationals who had originally entered the country on tourist visas. The conspirators would then complete immigration documents and submit them to Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) to obtain legal permanent resident status, according to the indictment. As part of the conspiracy, the indictment further alleges they would take staged photographs of themselves as a couple for documentation of an allegedly meaningful relationship. The conspirators also allegedly coached the recruits and/or the Nigerian nationals on what to say when questioned or interviewed by law enforcement or immigration officials about the legitimate nature of the marriages.
The indictment charges all five with conspiracy commit marriage fraud. Alabi, who is charged with recruiting the Nigerian nationals to engage in this conspiracy, is also charged with two counts of aiding and abetting marriage fraud, while Andrews and Warren are each charged with the same allegation. Daniel and Adamolekun were also indicted on one count of committing marriage fraud.
Alabi allegedly recruited Nigerian nationals, including Daniel and Adamolekun, to enter into “sham” marriages with U.S. citizens to ultimately gain lawful permanent status in the Unites States. The indictment further alleges Daniel did knowingly marry Andrews, a U.S. citizen for the for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws of the United States. Similarly, Warren allegedly entered into a sham marriage with Adamolekun, according to the allegations. At the time of this conspiracy, Alabi and Adamolekun were natives and citizens of Nigeria and had entered the U.S. temporarily on non-immigrant visas. Daniel is a lawful permanent resident.
If convicted on any of the counts as charged, each defendant faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
The charges are the result of an investigation by ICE-HSI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, Office of Fraud Detection, CIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate and the Department of Agriculture - Office of the Inspector General. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Bennett is prosecuting the case.
The indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
All defendants are presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
Updated February 4, 2016