Federal Jury Convicts U.K. Citizen and City of Austin Employee in Marriage Fraud Scheme
In Del Rio this morning, a federal jury found Nancy Chan, a 39-year-old citizen of the United Kingdom and City of Austin employee, guilty of perpetrating a marriage fraud scheme announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr and Special Agent in Charge Jeff Arndt, Customs and Border Protection Office of Professional Responsibility, El Paso Division.
The jury convicted Chan of one count of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. During the two-day trial, two co-defendants entered guilty pleas for their roles in the scheme. Isabel Metzler, a 46-year-old former Customs and Border Protection officer at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. Metzler’s husband, Luis Morales, a 37-year-old Customs and Border Protection officer at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to a federal agent.
Testimony during trial revealed that after discussing her immigration status with her friend, Isabel Metzler, Nancy Chan entered into a fraudulent marriage agreement with a person known to Metzler and Morales for the purpose of becoming a lawfully permanent resident. On March 2, 2011, in Maverick County, Chan married the U.S. citizen. In 2014, Chan and her legal spouse submitted false documentation to obtain Lawfully Admitted Permanent Resident (LAPR) status for Chan and to seek naturalization. Chan and her spouse were subsequently interviewed separately by an officer of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to determine the validity of their marriage. Their answers to questions posed by the officer contained numerous inconsistencies.
By pleading guilty, Metzler admitted to her role in setting up and attempting to conceal the fraudulent marriage scheme. Morales admitted that on February 9, 2016, he lied to Customs and Border Protection Office of Professional Responsibility investigators about his knowledge of the marriage fraud scheme and for convincing the spouse to maintain the marriage charade to authorities.
Chan and Metzler face up to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. Chan also faces up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Morales faces up to five years in federal prison for making a false statement to authorities. Chan was remanded into U.S. Marshals Service custody following the verdict. Metzler and Morales remain on bond pending sentencing. No sentencing date has been scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Customs and Border Protection Office of Professional Responsibility together with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Austin Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Patrick Burke and Todd Keagle are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.