A California man arranged hundreds of sham marriages to get immigrants green cards.
A federal court in Boston (Massachusetts) found a resident of Los Angeles (California) guilty of organizing a large-scale marriage fraud agency. This agency organized hundreds of sham marriages, concluded with the main goal of circumventing immigration laws. This is stated on the website US Department of Justice.
Philippine citizen Engilbert Ulan, 42, of Los Angeles, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and falsifying immigration documents.
Judge Denise Kasper set sentencing for March 6, 2024. Ulan was arrested and charged along with 11 accomplices in April 2022 in connection with a “marriage fraud agency” run by Marsialito “Mars” Benitez.
Ulan worked for an agency that arranged hundreds of sham marriages between foreign national “clients” and United States citizens, including at least one foreign national who resided in Massachusetts. The agency then prepared and submitted false petitions, statements, and other documents to substantiate the sham marriages and secure adjustments to clients' immigration statuses for fees ranging from $20 to $000.
Once the agency matched the foreign clients with spouses, they made appointments for fictitious wedding ceremonies in chapels, parks and other locations, performed by clergy hired over the Internet. For many clients, the agency took photographs in front of fake wedding decorations for later submission to immigration petitions.
Evidence presented at trial showed that, beginning in approximately 2019, Ulan, along with Benitez and other associates, worked out of brick-and-mortar offices in Los Angeles. Among other things, the Filipino interviewed agency clients and their fictitious spouses to prepare couples for mandatory interviews with immigration authorities. Ulan trained fictitious couples to give identical, fabricated answers to questions asked during green card interviews in order to hide the fictitious nature of the marriages.
Defendant assisted clients in obtaining false marriage and immigration documents, including fabricating supporting documents presented as “proof” of the validity of the marriage. Ulan, among other things, rented out his apartment address to clients living outside of Los Angeles so that they could list it as their own on green card applications and related documents, and immigration authorities thought they were living with their alleged spouses in Los Angeles area. The Filipino also received cash commissions for attracting new clients to the agency.
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During Uhlan's involvement in the conspiracy, from approximately December 2019 to March 2022, the agency arranged sham marriages and filed false immigration documents for more than 300 clients.
Ulan became the tenth defendant convicted in this case, and nine of his accomplices pleaded guilty. Benitez pleaded guilty on September 27, 2023 and will be sentenced on January 10, 2024.
The charges of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and falsification of immigration documents carry penalties of up to 5 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250.
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