Portland man, Russian woman accused of sham marriage scheme

Posted March 13, 2014, at 5:21 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Two of three people indicted in connection with an alleged sham marriage scheme were arrested and made their first court appearance Wednesday.

Christopher Segal, 33, of Portland and Russian national Marina Koroleva, 27, of Newburyport, Mass., are free on bail.

Segal, who is an American citizen, was released after appearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III in federal court in Portland on $5,000 unsecured bail.

Koroleva was released on $50,000 unsecured bail but confined to her home after appearing in Boston before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler.

The recent indictments are not related to a larger marriage fraud conspiracy that i nvolved two Massachusetts men who brokered sham marriages between more than a dozen Maine residents and natives of Africa, Assistant U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee, who is prosecuting Segal and Koroleva, said Thursday.

Segal and Koroleva were indicted separately on one count each of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and visa fraud. Bail conditions include their not having contact with each other.

Segal pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday in federal court in Portland. A date for Koroleva’s arraignment in Maine has not been set.

Segal was indicted with another person who has not yet been arrested. The name of that person and information about his or her alleged crime were redacted from the indictment.

Koroleva allegedly married a U.S. citizen identified as G.H. in the indictment on Jan. 11, 2011, in Portland. She paid him a total of $5,500 in order to gain citizenship more easily, the indictment alleged.

The marriage fraud was uncovered May 22, 2012, when the couple was interviewed by immigration officials, the indictment said. The visa fraud charge stemmed from her efforts to change her status from student to lawful permanent resident by entering into a fraudulent marriage.

Segal was married Sept. 13, 2011, to his co-defendant in Cape Elizabeth and paid $800, the indictment said. The visa fraud charge stemmed from him allegedly lying about his relationship with his wife when she applied to change her visa status to lawful permanent alien.

If convicted, each faces up to 10 years in federal prison on the visa fraud charge and up to five years in federal prison on the conspiracy charges. The defendants also could be fined up to $250,000 on each count.

 

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