BANGOR, Maine — Kelly Rider of Newport was just 17 when a neighbor recruited her to marry a man she’d never met to make it easier for him to become a U.S. citizen.
After turning 18, Rider, now 24 and the mother of two children ages 5 and 2 months, married a Kenyan national in May 2005 and became a small cog in what became the state’s first sham marriage conspiracy, which included about two dozen Mainers.
U.S. District Judge John Woodcock on Thursday sentenced Rider to one year of probation and ordered her to pay a $300 fine.
Rider pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to defraud the United States. Unlike others in the scheme, she was not paid to marry, Woodcock said Thursday in imposing her sentence.
“What truly separates this case from the others is her motivation,” the judge said. “The others all were paid to sell out their country for a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. She got about $40 in gas money [for trips to the immigration office in Boston]. It came as a surprise to her that it was illegal.”
Rider, who technically is still married to the man from Kenya, was a witness in October 2006 to the sham wedding of her live-in boyfriend to a woman seeking to remain in the U.S., the judge said.
He has not been charged, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Rider was recruited into the scam by the Roy family, who have been described in court documents as her neighbors.
The family was part of a conspiracy federal prosecutors claimed was run by two African men. Rashid Kakande, 37, of Woburn, Mass., was convicted by a jury. Originally from Uganda, Kakande (pronounced ka-KAHN-day) 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., and a native of Kenya, disappeared last year and is considered a fugitive by the court.
June Roy White, 56, who recruited Rider, was sentenced last month to three months in federal prison, the same amount of time behind bars that her husband, Albert White, 48, of Newport, is serving. He is scheduled to be released on Aug. 9, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons’ inmate locater website at http://www.bop.gov/inmate_locator/index.jsp. She is scheduled to report on June 17.
Two of White’s daughters also have been sentenced to prison time for their roles in the conspiracy.
Torri Roy Patterson, 32, of Lewiston is scheduled to begin serving a six-month sentence on June 10. Angela Roy, 37, of Sabbatus is scheduled to begin serving a 10-month sentence on June 17.
Members of the Roy family and Rider testified against Kakande.
Rider faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, she faced between four and 10 months in prison, which qualified her for probation.