Maura Carney and Lon Elliott
Feds watching for cases of marriage fraud
By Maureen Boyle
Sat Jun 13, 2009
BROCKTON - A month after getting married, a Brockton police sergeant and a German woman in the country on a 90-day visa waiver filed paperwork that would keep her in the country.
Under the penalty of perjury, cop Lon Elliott — since fired from the department — swore the two lived together and had intended to live together.
Prosecutors now allege that was a lie and part of a plan by a well-known Brockton businesswoman, Maura Carney, to allow the 28-year-old German woman to stay in the country.
Carney, 45, the general manager of the Brockton Fair; Elliott, 47, of Abington; and Lilly Rempel of Taunton are charged in a federal indictment of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and entering into a marriage to evade the immigration laws.
The three appeared in federal court Wednesday and were released on unsecured bonds — the equivalent of personal recognizance. They are set to be arraigned June 19. Conviction on the charges carry prison sentences of up to five years, followed by three years supervised release and $250,000 fines on each count.
The indictment did not offer reasons why — if the allegations are true — the three would agree to the plan. Attempts to reach the defendants’ attorneys Thursday and Friday were unsuccessful.
The case — prompted by a tip forwarded by Brockton police — highlights the closer eye federal officials are keeping foreign nationals trying to stay in the United States [right...and that's why they do virtually nothing about the 20-30 million hispanics illegally in this country] and the steps being taken if they believe fraud is involved. [but the millions of cases of illegal hispanics fraudulently using fake IDs, stealing and using fake social security numbers, etc...that kind of fraud is given the kosher pass]
But some, particularly those who are poor, may be willing to take the risk to stay in the country and eventually become citizens, said Eileen Morrison, an immigration attorney in Newtonville.
Those who don’t have the means to go to school here, who aren’t professionals with specialized skills or with family already in the United States may believe marrying a citizen is the only way to stay, she said.
Aliens caught face deportation and, along with the person he or she married, possible federal prosecution.
Morrison said the laws were tightened some years ago because there was the perception there was wide-spread marriage fraud to circumvent the immigration laws.
It exists, she said, but not as much as is thought. “In my practice, in 19 years, I haven’t seen a single case of marriage fraud,” she said.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not keep figures on how many people are prosecuted for marriage fraud. Numbers for permanent residents who petition to change their immigration status due to marriage also were not available.
However, between Oct. 1, 2003, and Sept. 30, 2004, 29 percent of the 140,755 booked for federal offenses faced immigration charges.
Of those charged with immigration offenses, 3 percent were charged with claims of false citizenship; it was unclear how many involved false marriages.
Sarang Sekhavat, federal policy director at Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said marriage fraud is uncommon.
“It is exceedingly rare to see it,” he said. “People usually don’t commit fraud like that.”
The immigration laws involving marriage are designed to keep families together and if immigration officials believe there’s fraud involved, they will question the couple, he said.
“They interview the husband and wife to make sure there is a real relationship,” he said. “For people who are actually in a real relationship, it is not a hard standard to meet. It can be a little off-putting,” he said.
A quick marriage will raise questions, he said.
“There are other kinds of things: joint bank accounts, living together, they want to see photographs. They may ask if you had friends and family at the wedding,” he said.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would conduct that inquiry and then turn over the case to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for criminal investigation. The U.S. attorney’s office would then, if warranted, prosecute.
David M. Santos, spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said making sure people are here legally — and aren’t lying to do it — is important. [What a farce...actually, only that white people are here legally; hispanics and other non-whites are free to come here illegally by the tens of millions]
“The mission of USCI is to ensure that people who are deserving of benefits get them,” Santos said. “That is the core mission of the agency so, obviously, exposing fraud would be in our and the American public’s best interest.”
In the latest case, the federal indictment alleges Carney, general manager of the Brockton Fair and daughter of dog track owner George Carney, recruited Elliott to marry Rempel to evade the immigration laws. They filed marriage intention paperwork three days after Rempel entered the country in July 2007 and married a month later.
On Sept. 9, 2007, weeks before Rempel was required to leave the country Elliott swore in a “change of status” petition that would allow her to stay in the country as his wife that he lived with her and intended on living with her.
Rempel listed Chilton Road, Brockton, as her home address on the marriage certificate. That is the home owned by George Carney and his wife. The federal indictment lists a Bay Street, Taunton, condominium as her current home address. Taunton assessor records list Carney as the owner.
Rempel was working at the race track as recently as this past November. Attempts to reach the senior Carney for comment were unsuccessful.
Elliott was fired as a Brockton police officer in January in connection with the arrest of a man who owed money to the Raynham track.
Jose Semedo, a black businessman, told police he was falsely arrested in 2007 and then called a racial slur when he protested. Semedo, who owed the Raynham dog track $5,200, was picked up on a warrant that had been cleared up a day earlier. He also said he was kept locked up even after Elliott was told the warrant was no good.
Elliott is now appealing his firing.
Maureen Boyle can be reached at email@example.com.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Blatant double standard on immigration - Feds prosecuting German woman (and U.S. man) for "marriage fraud" for staying in U.S., face 5 years in prison
Meanwhile, of course, the red carpet is rolled out for 20-30 million hispanics and other non-white foreign nationals to illegally invade the U.S.