Eleven suspects charged for marriage fraud scheme involving immigrants, U.S. Army soldiers
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Former Fort Bragg soldier Ebenezer Yeboah Asane, 37, has been charged for planning and organizing fraudulent marriages between U.S. Army soldiers and immigrants.
According to the indictment from the Department of Justice, the purpose of the conspiracy was to help foreign-born nationals evade U.S. immigration laws and obtain lawful permanent residence status and for the soldiers to receive Basic Allowance for Housing to live off post instead of the barracks.
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Another 10 people were indicted for allegedly conspiring with Asane to recruit other soldiers into the scheme, to orchestrate photographs to give the appearance the marriages were legitimate, and to submit false statements to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in support of the sham marriages.
The defendants include:
- James Earnest Ekow Arthur, 32, of El Paso, Texas
- Ernest Atta Gyasi, 43, of Bronx, N.Y.
- Samuel Manu Agyapong (“Agyapong”), 33, of Fayetteville, N.C.
- Barbara Oppong, 41, of Bronx, N.Y.
- William Steven Ballard, 23, of Fayetteville, N.C.
- Solace Kwakye, 30, of Bronx, N.Y.
- Yemisi Mary Opaso, 27, of Hanover, Md.
- Christopher Matthew Urquia, 23, of Fort Bragg, N.C.
- Kevyn Jakob Ward, 22, of Fayetteville, N.C.
- Effua Agyare-Darko, 43, of Ardsley, N.C.
The charge includes 29 counts, including marriage fraud, transporting and harboring aliens, visa fraud, obstruction, unlawful disposition of U.S. property, false statements in immigration matters and conspiracy to marriage fraud.
Samuel Agyapong, a sergeant at Fort Bragg, is also charged with obstructing an official proceeding by attempting to destroy evidence and influencing the testimony of a witness.
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If convicted, the maximum punishment for committing marriage fraud, conspiracy to commit marriage fraud is up to five years in prison.
Meanwhile, the maximum punishment for harboring aliens is 10 years in prison.
In addition, the maximum punishment for obstructing an official proceeding is up to 20 years imprisonment and the maximum punishment for visa fraud is up to 25 years imprisonment.
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