Defendants sentenced in marriage fraud scheme

Federal prosecutors announced Monday that the last two of five defendants in a marriage fraud scheme involving Chinese nationals and American citizens have been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco.

U.S. Attorney Scott Schools of San Francisco said the investigation targeted fake marriage brokers operating in Pasadena and San Gabriel in 2003 and 2004.

The business, called Marriage Introduction Services, offered to marry Chinese nationals to American citizens for a fee, so the Chinese nationals could then apply for and receive immigration benefits, Schools said.

The brokers advertised in Chinese language newspaper and recruited Chinese nationals residing in California, including the Bay Area, Schools said.

Zhicheng Zeng, 60, of Pasadena, who pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco on Dec. 13 to six months of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

Zeng admitted during the plea to aiding in the creation of immigration documents containing false statements, Schools said.

Another defendant, Lin Hu Ma, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, was sentenced by White on Nov. 1 to one year of probation.

Three other participants in the scheme were sentenced by White last year to prison terms ranging from nine months to one year and three months.

Schools said the marriages were fake in that they were arranged and entered into solely to permit the Chinese national to take advantage of immigration laws that allow American citizens to obtain “green cards” or marriage visas for their non-citizen spouses.

The prosecution stemmed from a three-year investigation by the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.

Bay City News

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