Pair indicted in sham marriage scheme

Feb. 11, 2013 at 2:58 PM

CHICAGO, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Two Chicago-area people were indicted for allegedly conspiring to arrange sham marriages to evade immigration laws, federal officials said Monday.

The two defendants allegedly arranged at least four fraudulent marriages and tried to arrange a fifth between a foreign national and an undercover agent posing as a U.S. citizen, the U.S. Justice Department said in a release.

Teresita Zarrabain, 60, of Des Plaines, Ill., a naturalized U.S. citizen who owns an immigration consulting business in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, and Michael Smith, 41, of Bellwood, Ill., were charged with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, marriage fraud and visa fraud, the Justice Department said. Zarrabain also was charged with obstruction of justice.

The indictment indicated that from 2005 to 2012, Zarrabain helped foreign-born clients complete the forms needed to become legal permanent residents on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen. Clients paid Zarrabain between $8,000 and $15,000 for arranging the phony marriages to U.S. citizens recruited by Zarrabain and Smith, the indictment said.

It wasn't disclosed what countries the foreign nationals were from

Foreign nationals who marry U.S. citizens legitimately may become legal permanent U.S. residents, but they can't if the marriage was solely for skirting immigration laws.

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