A California man pleaded responsible in Boston federal court docket Wednesday to arranging a whole lot of sham marriages as a part of a scheme to avoid immigration legal guidelines.
Marcialito “Mars” Biol Benitez, 49, pleaded responsible to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and immigration doc fraud, appearing U.S. Lawyer Joshua S. Levy’s workplace stated in a information launch. Benitez, a Philippine nationwide residing in Los Angeles, is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 10.
Federal prosecutors stated Benitez’s L.A.-based “company” organized sham marriages between international nationals and U.S. residents, his shoppers together with not less than one international nationwide who lived in Massachusetts.
All advised, prosecutors stated Benitez organized marriages and submitted fraudulent inexperienced card purposes for not less than 600 shoppers between October 2016 and March 2022. The company charged money charges that ranged from $20,000 to $35,000, Levy’s workplace stated within the launch.
Benitez was arrested with 10 others again in April 2022 and is the seventh defendant to plead responsible. Prosecutors alleged that Benitez’s co-conspirators helped organize marriages and submit fraudulent paperwork, additionally recruiting Americans to marry shoppers in alternate for fee.
In keeping with Levy’s workplace, after pairing international nationals with residents, Benitez’s company would stage pretend wedding ceremony ceremonies at chapels, parks, and different areas. For a lot of shoppers, the company would additionally snap pictures of the couple in entrance of prop wedding ceremony decorations.
An indictment filed in U.S. District Courtroom in Boston particulars the company’s dealings with a girl from Massachusetts, referred to within the doc as Consumer 1.
On Might 26, 2020, Benitez confirmed Consumer 1 a listing of names and pictures of potential spouses, in accordance with the indictment. She met her partner the subsequent day and entered into an settlement that required fee of $18,000 to the company and $10,000 to the partner.
The pair wed in a park ceremony in the future later, and Consumer 1 signed immigration paperwork the company had ready for her.
When Consumer 1 later expressed concern that her partner was unwilling to arrange for an interview with United States Citizenship and Immigration Companies, Benitez allegedly suggested her to bribe him. USCIS authorized Consumer 1’s inexperienced card on April 23, 2021.
In keeping with Levy’s workplace, Benitez’s company additionally helped sure shoppers — sometimes these whose spouses had been unresponsive or uncooperative — receive inexperienced playing cards below the Violence Towards Ladies Act by fabricating allegations of home violence. VAWA provisions allow non-citizen victims of spousal abuse to hunt lawful everlasting resident standing with out their spouses’ involvement.
Benitez faces as much as 5 years in jail, three years of supervised launch, and a positive of $250,000.
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