Nine people pleaded guilty to charges connected with their involvement in a scheme in central Ohio to arrange marriages between foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. The sentences were announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office and U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE).
Brian Moskowitz, ICE special agent in charge of the Office of Homeland Security Investigations in Ohio and Michigan, along with Carter M. Stewart, U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, announced the sentences by U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.
The sentences were imposed on the following individuals:
- Hasan Salohutdinov of Dublin, Ohio, and an illegal alien from Uzbekistan,
was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment followed by deportation. He pleaded
guilty on April 5, 2010, to one count of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud
and on count of presenting false statements to U.S. immigration authorities.
Salohutdinov introduced other Uzbeks into the scheme in order that they might
pay to engage in sham marriages.
- Dmitry Pani also of Dublin, and an illegal alien from Estonia, was sentenced
to one year imprisonment. Pani also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy
to commit marriage fraud.
- Sviatlana A. Piskunova of Columbus pleaded guilty to conspiracy and sentenced
to time served.
- Laura Elizabeth Grace Scott of Columbus pleaded guilty to conspiracy and
was sentenced to two years probation which includes six months of home confinement.
- Courtnie Susann Good of Columbus pleaded guilty to marriage fraud and was
sentenced to two years probation which includes six months of home confinement
with electronic monitoring.
- Elbek A. Saidjanov of Philadelphia, Penn., pleaded guilty to marriage fraud
and was sentenced to time served, about seven and one-half months.
- Iskander Odilovich Tairov, of Galloway, Ohio, pleaded guilty to marriage
fraud and was sentenced to two years probation.
- Brent James Woods of Columbus pleaded guilty to marriage fraud and was
sentenced to four years probation including four months in Alvis House.
- Djafar B. Sobirov of Columbus pleaded guilty to marriage fraud and was
sentenced to two years probation.
Pani established an informal "business" to find U.S. citizens who
would accept money to enter into sham marriages with aliens for the purpose
of evading a provision of the immigration laws of the United States, and to
aid and abet in the making of false statements to immigration authorities with
respect to those sham marriages in an effort to convince the immigration authorities
that they were genuine marriages.
Salohutdinov, who had entered into a sham marriage in Illinois, moved to Ohio
and came to know Pani. Salohutdinov and Piskunova joined the conspiracy with
Pani and arranged sham marriages for certain other aliens that Salohudinov
The sham marriages typically occurred shortly after the alien and the U.S.
citizen met each other, sometimes even the same day. Saidjanov, an alien, came
to Columbus from Philadelphia, Penn., and paid Pani to arrange a sham marriage
on Feb. 9, 2009, with Good. Saidjanov also paid his girlfriend, who is an alien,
too, to enter into a sham marriage on the following day. These sham marriages
took place at The Columbus Wedding Chapel, in Columbus. After the marriages,
Sadijanov and his girlfriend returned to Philadelphia, and did not live with
their new American spouses.
"Today's sentences are a reminder that America's legal immigration system is not for sale," said Moskowitz. "ICE will aggressively investigate and bring to justice those who seek to compromise the integrity of that system for personal profit or to avoid immigration laws."
Stewart commended the investigation conducted by ICE agents, and the assistance of the ICE Office of Enforcement and Removal, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Columbus Police Department, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Brown, who prosecuted the case.