BANGOR, Maine — A Dover-Foxcroft native was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court to six months in prison for participating in a conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.
Torri Roy Patterson, 32, of Lewiston was the first of nearly a dozen people expected to be sentenced for being part of a scheme to set up sham marriages between Maine residents and aliens seeking to obtain residency status.
U.S. District Judge John Woodcock significantly reduced Patterson’s sentence because she cooperated with federal prosecutors and testified last month at a trial in federal court in Portland against ringleader Rashid Kakande, 37, of Woburn, Mass., who was convicted by a jury. Kakande, originally from Uganda, is being held without bail while awaiting sentencing.
A second man, James Mbugua (pronounced umm-BOOG-wa), was indicted in July 2010 by a federal grand jury with Kakande. Mbugua, 50, of Springfield, Mass., disappeared last year and is considered a fugitive by the court. He is a native of Kenya.
Patterson wept through Monday’s hourlong sentencing hearing. She apologized to Woodcock for her actions but broke down in sobs after saying that the entire experience had made her a better person.
“The really awful thing about this is that people carrying a lot of baggage like you, you recruited,” Woodcock said in sentencing Patterson. “You went to your friends and they wound up being investigated by federal authorities because they knew you and trusted you, and now they’re going to be sitting where you’re sitting.”
Patterson met and was paid by Kakande (pronounced ka-KAHN-day) to marry a Kenyan man, who was living in Massachusetts, on Dec. 5, 2003, in Lewiston, according to court documents. She attended seven different sham weddings, signing the marriage certificate after three of them.
When she recruited people, Patterson introduced them to the organizers of the scheme, “helped arrange the time, location and logistics for the marriages, attended and witnessed the ceremonies, and received money for her role,” according to the prosecution of events to which she pleaded guilty last year.
Patterson was recruited into the scheme by her sister Angela Roy, 37, of Sabbatus. Their mother, June Roy White, 56, and her husband, Albert White, 48, both of Newport, also have pleaded guilty in the scheme. They are scheduled to be sentenced later this month.
Kristen Roy of New Hampshire was married to Mbugua. The couple are now divorced. Kristen Roy has not been charged in connection with the sham marriage scheme.
Patterson faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the prevailing sentencing federal guidelines, the recommended sentence was between 12 and 18 months.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone recommended Patterson’s sentence be reduced because of her cooperation.
Defense attorney Jon Haddow urged the judge not to send his client to prison but to sentence her to probation or house arrest so she could continue to care for her very ill boyfriend and his two young children.
In addition to prison time, Woodcock sentenced Patterson to three years of supervised release after she serves her prison time. He also ordered her to pay a fine of $5,000 — the amount of money she earned for being part of the conspiracy. Woodcock deferred the imposition of sentence until June 10.
“It has been said that there is no more honorable title in this world than citizen of the United States,” Woodcock told Patterson just before he imposed her sentence. “It is prized by people all over the globe, but it wasn’t prized by you. You sold it for a few pieces of gold.”
An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated Kristin Roy of New Hampshire was married to Rashid Kakande. She was married to James Mbugu She is not related to the defendants named Roy who live in Maine.