96 charged in immigrant marriage scheme that provided fake wedding albums
HOUSTON – Nearly 100 people were charged in connection with what federal prosecutors described as the largest sham marriage scheme ever documented in the Houston area.
According to the U.S. district attorney’s office, a grand jury handed up a 206-count indictment against 96 people. So far, 50 people have been arrested.
Prosecutors said that 53-year-old Ashley Yen Nguyen, of Houston, ran an organization based in southwest Houston that charged people $50,000 to $70,000 to circumvent immigration laws by arranging sham marriages complete with an album of wedding photos, plus false tax, utility and employment information.
According to prosecutors, most of the couples would not meet each other until just before they got their marriage license. In some cases, they never met, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, both Nguyen and the people posing as spouses would take part of the money paid by the person seeking residency in the U.S.
Nguyen’s organization had agents throughout Texas and in Vietnam, prosecutors said.
Pearland attorney Trang Le Nguyen has also been charged in connection with the case, according to federal prosecutors. He is accused of preparing the paperwork used in at least one of the sham marriages and telling a law enforcement source to go into hiding.
If convicted, some of those arrested could face up to 35 years in prison.
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