PORTLAND, Maine — A Ugandan citizen was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court to a year in federal prison for being part of a marriage scam that paid Mainers to wed people seeking to gain U.S. citizenship.
A jury in March found Catherine Nantume, 34, of Woburn, Mass., guilty of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., according to court documents.
In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock sentenced Nantume to three years of supervised release. Nantume most likely will be deported once she is released.
Nantume is free on personal recognizance bail. Woodcock said she could begin serving her sentence Jan. 3 but ordered that she wear an ankle monitoring bracelet and remain at home until then.
Immediately following the sentencing, Nantume’s attorney, David Van Dyke of Lewiston, filed a notice of appeal of the case to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.
Nantume married Timothy Dancsak, 29, of Lewiston two days after she met him in the summer of 2002 in an Auburn park, according to the information presented at her trial. Dancsak was paid $500 to marry Nantume and more money after he attended interviews with immigration officials. The two never lived together, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone told the jury in March.
Nantume denied paying Dancsak to marry her and claimed the marriage was a love match, according to court documents. She told investigators she met Dancsak in 2002 at a New Year’s Eve party at the home of Rashid Kakande, 40, of Lexington, Mass. Kakande arranged the marriage between Nantume and Dancsak for a fee, according to court documents.
Nantume is one of more than two dozen people charged in U.S. District Court in Maine with being part of a scheme that paired Africans living in Massachusetts with residents of Maine. Americans most often were paid between $500 and $5,000 to marry citizens of Uganda and other African nations, according to court documents.
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, the documents said. If a change to conditional resident status is granted, it opens the door for eventual citizenship. After paperwork with immigration had been completed and citizenship granted, the couple in the arranged marriage would divorce.
Kakande was sentenced in June in federal court in Bangor to two years in prison for masterminding the marriage fraud scheme. The native of Uganda was convicted by a federal jury a year ago of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Jurors found that he had paid more than a dozen Maine residents to marry and recruit others to marry immigrants, many of whom had overstayed their visas, as Nantume had.
Kakande, who was released from prison to immigration officials in August, testified against Nantume.
A second man, James Mbugua, was indicted in July 2010 by a federal grand jury with Kakande. Mbugua, 51, of Springfield, Mass., disappeared last year and is considered a fugitive by the court. He is a native of Kenya.
Nantume faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, she faced between six and 12 months in federal prison.