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North Carolina Marines suspected of immigrant marriage scam

A recent investigation involved service members stationed at a North Carolina Marine base. It is claimed that several Marines entered into fraudulent marriages in order to obtain extra benefits or provide a means for their spouses to apply for green cards in the United States. One immigrant, who is also a Marine, was convicted after a court martial in the case, but that conviction was recently overturned.

The corporal in question was convicted of a marriage scam in 2013. His wife, a native of Ghana, was planning to apply for permanent residency status because her marriage provided means to eligibility. The convicted Marine was sentenced to 15 months confinement and was also issued a bad-conduct discharge from the Corps. A court of criminal appeals overturned the conviction, holding that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the man's marriage was entered into under false pretenses.

The Marine is a Salvadoran national and entered the Corps as a mechanic in 2010. He met his wife, a relative of one of his Marine Corps mentors (who is also suspected to have taken part in the alleged fraudulent marriage ring) and had proposed to her only a little more than a month after they were introduced. After a deployment to Afghanistan the following year, their marriage began to deteriorate. Agents approached him in 2012, forbidding him to have further contact with his wife. Some believe that he was under duress when he ultimately confessed to marriage fraud and was convicted in 2013.

Language barriers and complicated legal issues can make such situations very stressful for a North Carolina immigrant being accused of wrongdoing. Matters in the military are often handled differently than they would be in a civilian situation. Immigrants in similar cases could face potential threat of deportation if their convictions are not overturned. Therefore, it would most likely be prudent for anyone being accused of immigration fraud to contact a legal professional at the first opportunity and before answering any questions posed by the authorities.

Source: marinecorpstimes.com, "Marine's scam marriage conviction overturned", Hope Hodge Seck, Aug. 28, 2015

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