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Document and Benefit Fraud
09/30/2010

12 more indicted in large-scale Cambodian marriage fraud conspiracy

35 indictments to date in scheme involving U.S. citizens who married Cambodians for cash

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Twelve additional defendants, who allegedly arranged or participated in phony marriages to Cambodian nationals to evade immigration laws, were charged in a second superseding indictment that was unsealed Wednesday in federal court. The charges resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

A federal grand jury in Louisville returned a second superseding indictment on Sept. 29, adding 12 new defendants who allegedly engaged in a conspiracy that recruited U.S. citizens to marry Cambodian nationals in exchange for cash, free vacations to Cambodia, and sex.

The following 12 new defendants were named in the second superseding indictment:

  • Kong Cheng Ty, 43, of Danville, Ky.;
  • Larry Thomas Hibbard, 33, of Louisville, Ky.;
  • Laney Jo Marie Mudd, 33, of Louisville, Ky.;
  • Phechhou Eng, 30, address unknown; 
  • Pou Sreng, aka Sandy Sreng, 32, of Jeffersonville, Ind.;
  • Ryan Keith Ward, 29, of Shepherdsville, Ky.;
  • Sreymom Chuon, 29, address unknown;
  • Michael Joseph Marino, 47, of Bardstown, Ky.;
  • John Leo Singhiser, 48, of Louisville, Ky.;
  • Sokbay Lim, 45, of Dover, Ky.;
  • Chhenghy Heng, 26, of New Albany, Ind.; and
  • Chandamaly Koy Chea, aka Molly, 38, of Louisville, Ky.

They join the following 13 defendants previously indicted in a superseding indictment in April:

  • Michael Chanthou Chin, 39, of New Albany, Ind.;
  • Patrick Theng Chea, 45, of Louisville, Ky.;
  • Steve Sovan Uy, aka Sovan Oum, 43, of Nashville, Tenn.;
  • Phearoun Peter Em, aka Sophea Lim, 22, of Sellersburg, Ind.;
  • Monirath Em, aka Angel, 32, or New Albany, Ind.;
  • Asaad Abdulrazak Alkinani, 39, of Louisville, Ky.;
  • Borin Chum, 29, or New Albany, Ind.;
  • Sangha Srey, 49, of New Albany, Ind.;
  • Huong Sreng, 35, location unknown;
  • Yota Em, 24, of New Albany, Ind.;
  • Sona Ngov, 29, of Corydon, Ind.; 
  • Nary Bun, 28, of Louisville, Ky.; and
  • Sokunthy So, 25, of Winchester, Ky.

Each defendant was charged with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. Many defendants were also charged with additional counts of marriage and visa fraud. Seven individuals are alleged to be organizers of the conspiracy.

The following 11 defendants who were previously indicted in the April superseding indictment have pleaded guilty:

  • Monirath Vuthea Niev, aka T, 57, of Prospect, Ky.;
  • Sharon Lee Spalding, 44, of Lexington, Ky.;
  • Jeremy Dickson Carmickle, 38, of Louisville, Ky.;
  • Christopher William McAlister, 52, of Louisville, Ky.;
  • Christopher William McAlister, 25, of Georgetown, Ky.;
  • Donald McKinley Martin, 27, of Georgetown, Ky.;
  • Stephanie Jean Murphy, 31, of Louisville, Ky.;
  • Chok Chan, 49, of Mr. Sterling, Ky.; and
  • Sina Ros, 38, of Houston, Texas.

The second superseding indictment alleges that between Jan.1, 1999 and April 7, 2010, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to obtain lawful permanent residence in the United States for Cambodian nationals by way of fraudulent marriages and engagements.

Participating U.S. citizens were offered all-expense paid "vacations" to Cambodia that included airfare, lodging, meals, drinks, entertainment, and sexual acts from Cambodian prostitutes. Participating U.S. citizens were also paid thousands of dollars in exchange for participating in the scheme and assisting Cambodian nationals with obtaining lawful permanent residence in the United States. Once in Cambodia, the U.S. citizens participated in fraudulent engagement and marriage ceremonies, and took staged photographs to provide documentary support to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The conspiracy included more than 15 marriages and attempted marriages.

Foreign nationals who marry U.S. citizens can become U.S. permanent residents - and ultimately obtain U.S. citizenship - but not if the marriage is identified as a sham to evade immigration laws.

"These indictments serve as a reminder that America's legal immigration system is not for sale," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Chicago. "HSI will not tolerate the exploitation of our country's immigration system. We will work aggressively to investigate and bring to justice those who seek to compromise the integrity of that system for personal profit or to evade immigration laws."

In the event of a conviction for all counts, the maximum potential penalties are 75 years' imprisonment, a $2,750,000 fine, and supervised release for a period of 33 years. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Claire Phillips, Western District of Kentucky, is prosecuting the case.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.