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Document and Benefit Fraud
03/06/2009

10 indicted in multi-state marriage fraud scheme

Group arranged multiple sham marriages across the nation

CINCINNATI - Ten individuals involved in a multi-state marriage fraud conspiracy were indicted today in federal court following an intensive and far-reaching investigation by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Eight individuals were arrested yesterday by ICE agents and two individuals are still at large and being sought.

"This type of crime impacts the integrity of our nation's immigration system from both the perspective of security and fairness," said Brian Moskowitz, special agent-in-charge (SAC) of the ICE Office of Investigations in Detroit. "Not only are our overall security efforts hampered by the frequent use of fraudulent documents often used in these crimes but this illicit activity also serves to reward those who flaunt our laws with a path to citizenship. Neither option is acceptable."

The results of operation "Honeymoon's Over" were announced today by Gregory G. Lockhart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and SAC Moskowitz, when the indictment, returned March 6, was unsealed today after ICE agents arrested the last of the local defendants.

The indictment charges the following with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, which is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

According to the investigation, the 10 conspired between August 2005 and March 2008 to arrange multiple marriages between Eastern European aliens and U.S. citizens. They allegedly charged fees to the aliens and paid the U.S. citizens to marry them. The indictment alleges that they created false documents indicating that the marriages were legal and presented the false documents to immigration officials.

"The indictment outlines the two goals of the alleged conspirators," Lockhart said. "One goal was to fraudulently obtain permanent legal residence status for aliens and the other goal was personal profit."

The indictment also charges Porh, Johnson, and Murtazin with marriage fraud, which is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

Marriage fraud seriously impacts the integrity of the nation's immigration system from both the perspective of security and fairness. ICE aggressively pursues individuals who try to use marriage fraud to skirt the country's immigration system.

Last year, ICE made 238 criminal arrests relating to marriage fraud schemes and was successful in handing out convictions for 198 of those individuals. ICE also seized nearly $430,000 in assets related to these cases.

The following eight individuals were arrested yesterday:

  • Oksana Helms, age 28, of South Lebanon, Ohio
  • Ddmitry Mistryukov, age 27, of Maineville, Ohio
  • Alena Atamaniuk, age 28, of Burlington, Ky.
  • Anna Litvinenko Johnson, age 25, of Mason, Ohio, aka Anne Johnson
  • Stephanie Snyder, age 29, of Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Talgat Abishev, age 28, of Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Katsiaryna Mosser Usachova, age 25, of Burlington, Ky.
  • Darrell Hammonds, age 27, of Cincinnati, Ohio

Arrest warrants have been issued for the following two individuals:

  • Grigori Porh, age 23, of Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Azat Murtazin, age 27, of Union City, N.J.