BANGOR, Maine — At least 25 individuals have been identified by federal prosecutors as being part of a scheme to set up sham marriages between Maine residents and aliens seeking to obtain residency status in the United States.
Five of them, all Maine residents, have waived indictment and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Bangor to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. They are Angela Roy, 37, of Lewiston; Torri Roy Patterson, 33, Auburn; and Kelly Rider, 24, June Roy White, 56, and Albert White, 48, all of Newport.
Roy and Patterson are the daughters of June Roy White, who now is married to Albert White, according to court documents. Rider is a neighbor of June White.
Two Massachusetts men, Rashid Kakande, 38, of Woburn and James Mbugua, 49, of Springfield, were indicted in July by a federal grand jury for conspiring to defraud the U.S. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The pair allegedly paid Maine residents to marry and-or recruit others to marry immigrants, many of whom had overstayed their visas. Once married to U.S. citizens, the immigrants then could seek a change in their residency status from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, according to court documents. If a change to conditional resident status is granted, it opens the door for eventual citizenship.
Kakande, pronounced kah-KAHN-dee, is a native of Uganda who allegedly arranged sham marriages between Dec. 5, 2003, and June 17, 2007, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A native of Kenya, Mbugua, pronounced mah-GOO-ah, allegedly set up marriages from Feb. 22, 2005, to Oct. 26, 2006. Both men are lawful permanent residents of the U.S., but convictions could affect their immigration status.
Mbugua, who was free on $25,000 unsecured bond, now is considered to be a fugitive. He stopped communicating with the Office of Probation and Pre-trial Services in Massachusetts and his attorney, Eric Mehnert of Bangor, in late October, less than two weeks before his trial was scheduled to begin on Nov. 4.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk on Monday denied Kakande’s request to travel home to Uganda for his teenage son’s surgery next month. He is free on $25,000 unsecured bond, but the court holds his passport and bail conditions forbid travel outside the U.S.
In denying the request, Kravchuk said Kakande did not have a substantial amount of cash or property to post as bond to ensure his appearance at a trial. The judge also said that because there is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Uganda, Kakande could not be extradited if he failed to return on his own.
Kravchuk said Kakande had been abiding by conditions of his pretrial release. Mbugua’s disappearance could not enter into her decision about Kakande’s request, according to court rules.
Kandande’s trial is set tentatively for Jan. 4.
The trial briefs filed in Mbugua’s case reveal how the scheme allegedly worked.
Mbugua rented a house from Kakande in an unnamed Massachusetts city when Mbugua first came to the U.S. on a six-month visitor’s visa on March 10, 2002, according to court documents. Four days before his visa was scheduled to expire, he married Kristen Roy of New Hampshire. On March 5, 2005, he was granted condi-tional permanent residency, according to court documents. The couple now is divorced.
Court documents do not explain how the two met or if Kristen Roy is related to the Roys who have pleaded guilty in the case. The brief filed by prosecutors in Mbugua’s case says Angela Roy and Torri Roy Patterson met Kakande at a Lewiston bar in 2003.
Both eventually wed foreign nationals in marriages allegedly arranged by Kakande. The two women recruited their mother, her neighbor and other friends, according to court documents.
The men and women who recruited others into the marriage scheme were paid about $200, according to court documents. How much the spouses of immigrants or what the immigrants themselves paid was not included in the briefs.
If convicted, all seven defendants face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.
Sentencing dates have not been set for the five defendants who have pleaded guilty in the case.
The names of the other 18 people allegedly involved in the scheme have not been made public by federal prosecutors.