LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, SALVATORE DALESSANDRO, the Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), and CHRIS PAUL, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Diplomatic Security Service (“DSS”) of
the Department of State, announced that VLADIMIR BARARUSHKIN, TEA
SANCHEZ, TODD TOLSON, PABLO CRUZ and NANCY DIAZ were arrested
today on charges relating to the arrangement of sham marriages
between foreign nationals and United States citizens in order to
facilitate the foreign nationals’ fraudulent applications for
permanent resident status.
According to the Indictment filed in
Manhattan federal court:
From November 2002, the defendants operated the
fraudulent marriage scheme out of two adjacent office suites in
Manhattan. From those offices, BARARUSHKIN and TOLSON arranged
marriages between United States citizens and individuals from
Romania, the Ukraine, Russia and other countries, so that the
foreign nationals could apply for permanent resident status in
the United States. In one instance, BARARUSHKIN required a foreign national to pay approximately $15,000 for a fraudulent
marriage. CRUZ explained to a United States citizen that the
citizen would receive $5,000 if he entered into a marriage for
immigration purposes and then divorced after nine months.
In furtherance of the conspiracy, SANCHEZ prepared
immigration applications and other paperwork on behalf of these
foreign nationals in connection with their applications for
permanent resident status based on the fraudulent marriages. On
one occasion, BARARUSHKIN offered to create fraudulent documents
that falsely claimed that the foreign national was abused by her
spouse, so that she could obtain permanent resident status
following the dissolution of the marriage. In an effort to make
the fraudulent marriages appear legitimate, BARARUSHKIN, CRUZ and
others instructed the participants in these marriages to open
joint bank accounts, to obtain utility bills in both of their
names, and to take photographs together.
The defendants, arrested earlier this morning, are
expected to be presented in United States Magistrate Court this
afternoon. If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 10
years’ imprisonment. In addition, Count One of the Indictment
carries a potential maximum fine of the greater of $250,000, or
twice the gross gain or loss from the crime. Count Two of the
Indictment carries a potential maximum fine of $250,000.
Mr. GARCIA praised the investigative work of both ICE
and the DSS.
Assistant United States Attorney JENNA M. DABBS is in
charge of the prosecution.
The charges and allegations contained in the Indictment
are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent
unless and until proven guilty.