LOS ANGELES – A Mexican national who has appeared in feature films and a
Los Angeles man whom she married in June 2005 were arrested this morning by federal officials on marriage fraud charges that alleged they entered into a sham marriage so the actor could obtain legal status in the United States. Maria Fernanda Romero Martinez, a 28-year-old actor and model who lives in Westwood and who uses the stage name Fernanda Romero, and Kent Ross, also 28, who resides in the Park La Brea district of Los Angeles, were arrested at their respective residences this morning by Special Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The pair were charged in a criminal complaint filed on Thursday, April 15.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Romero paid Ross to “marry” her on June 12, 2005, and Romero and Ross never lived together as a couple.
About one month after the marriage, Romero began dating fashion photographer Markus Klinko, and they lived together for several months. However, according to the
affidavit, Romero and Klinko broke up, and Klinko eventually presented ICE with evidence that Romero was in a sham marriage.
Shortly after Romero and Ross were married, Romero filed an application for adjustment of status, otherwise known as an application for a green card, claiming that she had entered into a lawful marriage with Ross. In support of this application, Romero and Ross filed several documents containing false statements, such as claims that they lived at the same address, which was never the case. Romero also filed documents containing false statements as to how long she had resided in the United States.
“This actor should have realized that posing as a bride for immigration purposes could land her a role in a real-life crime drama,” said Miguel Unzueta, Special Agent in Charge for the ICE Office of Investigations in Los Angeles. “Immigration benefit fraud is a serious crime. Not only does it potentially rob deserving immigrants of benefits they
rightfully deserve, it also undermines the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration
Romero and Ross are scheduled to make their initial appearances at 11:00 a.m. this morning in United States District Court.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The charge of marriage fraud carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
This case is the product of an investigation by ICE and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
CONTACT: Special Assistant United States Attorney James M. Left
Domestic Security and Immigration Crimes Section
Release No. 10-068