Feds: Two NJ Sisters Charged in Sham Marriage Immigration Scheme
Federal authorities say two women from the Garden State have been indicted in connection with a scheme to arrange sham marriages between legal and non-legal citizens so they could remain in the country.
55-year-old Andrea Torres and 57-year-old Regina Johnson, both sisters and both from Newark, are facing one count of conspiracy to encourage and induce non-citizens to remain in the United States illegally.
Officials say from 2016 to 2019, Torres and Johnson devised a scheme to arrange and facilitate sham marriages for non-citizens who wished to remain in the United States, even though they were here illegally.
"They recruited U.S. [citizens] as potential spouses and paid them a fee in exchange for those U.S. citizens entering into sham marriages with Torres’ and Johnson’s non-citizen clients. Torres and Johnson arranged for the “couples” to obtain fraudulent marriage licenses and even arranged and charged their clients for wedding ceremonies and afterparties that were staged to make the sham marriages appear legitimate."
Beyond that, the duo allegedly advised their clients on ways to make their marriage appear legitimate, including tips on opening joint bank accounts and occasionally meeting to take pictures in various public places to document the relationship.
Once "established," Sellinger's office says the sisters helped their non-citizen clients fill out immigration forms to obtain permanent residency.
If convicted, Torres and Johnson face up to a decade behind bars and a $250,000 fine.
The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.