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Defendants sentenced for arranging, participating in fraudulent marriages to deceive immigration officials

A number of the defendants were living in Georgia.

Yuly Cesar Perez-Sale is the last of 31 defendants to be sentenced in connection with four-related indictments alleging marriage fraud and other immigration offenses concerning fraudulent marriages between Cuban nationals and United States citizens, and undocumented aliens from the countries of Honduras, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela.

“These defendants attempted to thwart the immigration laws of the United States by operating and participating in a fraudulent marriage factory,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Some of the defendants abused the law that allowed them as Cuban nationals to remain legally in this country. Thanks to the diligence and multi-state investigation of Homeland Security Investigation special agents, these defendants have been successfully prosecuted and, where applicable, deported.”

“Marriage fraud undermines the integrity of this nation’s immigration system”, said acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama. “This multi-year investigation, led by HSI Atlanta’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, is a testament to the tenacity of the task force who worked for years to see through the house of lies these “couples” built through fraud and illegal payments.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court:  In November 2013, U.S. States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta, Georgia, began investigating a marriage fraud scheme involving undocumented aliens entering into fraudulent marriages with Cuban nationals, and U.S. citizens, to illegally gain immigration status in the United States.

Beginning in February 2001, and continuing through December 2016,  the primary organizers of the scheme, Carolina Chow, Betiluz Suarez, Teodoro Gonzalez-Bonora, Marzuella Hernandez, and Jorge Morales-Amador, recruited and paid Cuban nationals and U.S. citizens to marry the illegal aliens. The illegal aliens then agreed to pay either Chow, Suarez, Gonzalez-Bonora, Marzuella Hernandez, or Morales-Amador as much as $20,000 to find and arrange a marriage with a Cuban national or U.S. citizen.

Once the fraudulent marriage was arranged, these defendants scheduled meetings between the aliens and their purported spouses.  During the meetings, the aliens were informed about the price for the marriage, the date of payment, and how to answer questions posed to them by immigration officials.

In the course of investigating this large-scale criminal operation, the lead HSI case agents traveled all over the U.S., locating targets of the investigation and developing evidence to support these prosecutions. In all, the four indictments returned by a grand jury resulted in guilty pleas by and convictions for the following defendants on the dates below:

Case I – United States v. Carolina Chow et. al. 

  • Alfredo Romero-Hernandez, 56, of Atlanta, Georgia, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.  Convicted April 10, 2019;
  • Lidia Pico-Guzman, 47, of Beaumont, Texas., Immigration Document Fraud.  Convicted April 9, 2019;
  • Isandra Perez-Batista, 49, of Amarillo, Texas, Immigration Document Fraud.  Convicted October 18, 2018;
  • Carolina  Chow, 47, of Atlanta, Georgia, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Improper Entry by Alien.  Convicted September 19, 2018;
  • Juan Del Toro Peligrino, 51, of Houston, Texas, Alien Harboring and Immigration Document Fraud.  Convicted May 15, 2018.
  • Margida  Reyna Ruiz, 59, of Houston, Texas, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.  Convicted April 24, 2018;
  • Yoanka Matos, 34, of  Jacksonville, Florida, Alien Harboring.  Convicted April 24, 2018;
  • Josvany Perez-Lopez, 44, of Houston, Texas, Alien harboring and Immigration Document Fraud.  Convicted November 15, 2017;
  • Dagnay Rivera Nunez, 42, of Miami, Florida, Harboring Aliens.  Convicted November 13, 2017;
  • Nuria Chabeco-Mustelier, 51, of Houston, Texas, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, Alien Harboring, and Immigration Document Fraud.  Convicted November 13, 2017;
  • Francisco Castellano-Arjona, 42, of Miami, Florida, Immigration Document Fraud.  Convicted November 2, 2017;
  • Teodoro Gonzalez Bonora, a/k/a Teo, 49, of Atlanta, Georgia, Alien Harboring and Immigration Document Fraud.  Convicted August 9, 2017; and
  • Anibal Valdes, 28, of Houston, Texas, Alien Harboring and Immigration Document Fraud.  Convicted June 27, 2017.

Case II – United States v. Jorge Morales-Amador et. al. 

  • Lourdes Guerra-Mendez, 49, of Atlanta, Georgia, Marriage Fraud.  Convicted April 2, 2018;
  • Jorge Morales-Amador, 50, of Ft. Pierce, Florida, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Marriage Fraud.  Convicted March 13, 2018;
  • Janelle Berry, 25, of Atlanta, Georgia, Marriage Fraud.  Convicted October 24, 2017;
  • Lamesha Sheppard, 28, of Atlanta, Georgia, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Marriage Fraud.  Convicted September 28, 2017; and
  • Susset De La Torres, 40, of Atlanta, Georgia, – Marriage Fraud and Alien Harboring.  Convicted May 3, 2017.

Case III – United States v. Betiluz Suarez et. al. 

  • Alexander Alayo, 47, of Miami, Florida, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.  Convicted January 4, 2018;
  • Betiluz Suarez, 51, of Atlanta, Georgia, Alien Harboring.  Convicted December 20, 2017; and
  • Jose F. Polanco, 40, of Atlanta, Georgia, Alien Harboring.  Convicted December 18, 2017.

Case IV: United States v. Maruzella Hernandez et. al. –

  • Miriam Martinez-Pol, 53, of Houston, Texas, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.  Convicted March 21, 2018;
  • Lazaro Machin, 54, of San Antonio, Texas, Alien Harboring and Immigration Document Fraud.  Convicted February 20, 2018;
  • Ofelia Astiazarain-Cabrera, 55, of Houston, Texas, Alien Harboring.  Convicted February 20, 2018;
  • Mercedes Acevedo-Alonso, 35, of Tampa, Florida, Alien Harboring and Immigration Document Fraud.  Convicted February 15, 2018;
  • Maruzella Hernandez, 51, of Atlanta, Georgia, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Alien Harboring.  Convicted February 14, 2018;
  • Yosvany Mendoza-Gonzalez, 49, of Austin, Texas, Alien Harboring.  Convicted November 28, 2017;
  • Jose Antonio Polanco-Penalver, 49, of Atlanta, Georgia, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Alien Harboring.  Convicted September 27, 2017; and
  • Mayelis Hernandez-Almenares, 41, of Atlanta, Georgia, Alien Harboring and Immigration Document Fraud.  Convicted September 6, 2017.

Yuly Cesar Perez-Sale, 52, of Miami, Florida, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Eleanor L. Ross.  Perez-Sale pleaded guilty on October 16, 2019, to the offenses of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Alien Harboring.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated these cases.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Gabay-Smith, Mary Webb, and Richard S. Moultrie, Jr., Chief of the Violent Crime & National Security Section, prosecuted the cases.

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    NELDA SMITH

    February 1, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    WHAT ABOUT U.S. CONGRESS THANG ILHAN OMAR / ELSISI SAID / WHAT-EVER-HER-NAME-IS ?

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