Two Defendants Plead Guilty; Four Others Charged In International Marriage Fraud Conspiracy
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Vishal Kamal Chhabria, 41, of Lake Forest, Illinois, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud before U.S. District Judge John L. Sinatra, Jr. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura A. Higgins, who is handling the case, stated that between April 2018, and March 16, 2022, Chhabria conspired with others to commit marriage fraud. Chhabria, a licensed attorney, provided legal representation to fraudulently married couples when they petitioned U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services for a Green Card for the foreign national spouse, knowing the couples were in a “contract marriage,” for the sole purpose of obtaining a Green Card. Chhabria assisted the couples in completing necessary forms with false representations, gathering, manufacturing and submitting false documentation, coaching the couples to falsely hold themselves out as legitimately married and evade detection by officials at CIS interviews, and personally accompany the couples to their CIS interviews. Chhabria submitted more than six packages containing false documents for Green Cards based on fraudulent marriages. Chhabria is scheduled to be sentenced on March 16, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. before Judge Sinatra.
In addition, Delaina Shaw, 36, of Pomfret Center, Connecticut, also pleaded guilty before Judge Sinatra to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. Shaw served as a marriage broker, connecting foreign nationals from India seeking legal permanent resident status in the U.S. with U.S. citizens willing to enter a fraudulent marriage for payment. Shaw made the arrangements for the foreign national and U.S. citizen to obtain a marriage license, participated in the marriage ceremony, and then prepared CIS forms and supporting documents for submission to CIS on behalf of the application for a Green Card. In exchange for her role as a broker, Shaw was compensated with thousands of dollars for every marriage she facilitated. In April 2018, Shaw entered a “contract marriage” of her own with a male foreign national born in India.
A federal grand jury has also returned an indictment charging three defendants with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and marriage fraud. Named in the indictment are:
• Amelia Adams, 36, of Springfield, Massachusetts;
• Barbara Yater, 43, of Norwich, Connecticut; and
• Vivek Patel, 32, a citizen of the UK and resident of North Carolina.
According to the indictment, on July 10, 2019, defendant Adams married an individual she believed to be a foreign national born India, for the purpose of obtaining a Green Card. The foreign national was, in fact, an undercover law enforcement officer. After the marriage ceremony, Adams posed for staged photographs with the undercover officer to be used in the petition for a Green Card. In September 2020, Adams executed false estate planning documents, such as a will and power of attorney for use as supporting documentation to be submitted to CIS. She also met with the undercover officer to create and rehearse fictitious details of her marriage in preparation for a CIS interview the following day. In October 2020, and May 2021, defendants Yater and Patel also married individuals they believed were foreign nationals for the purpose of obtaining a Green Card. Each of the alleged foreign nationals were undercover law enforcement officers.
Two additional defendants, Dishant Patel, 24, and Shweta Patel, 23, citizens of India living in Indianapolis, Indiana, were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. According to the complaint, in January 2022, Dishant Patel and Shweta Patel entered into fraudulent marriages at Hamburg, NY, Town Hall in the Western District of New York in order to apply for a Green Card. Once again, the marriages were to undercover law enforcement officers.
The pleas, indictment and complaint are the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Scarpino, Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Chicago Field Office under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Karen Whalen, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Eugene Staniszewski, and the Hamburg Police Department, under the direction of Chief Peter Dienes.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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