ALBANY, N.Y. – Three defendants were sentenced in federal court this week for their role in a marriage fraud scam. The sentencings follow an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Gaurav Mehta, 36, and Isha Mehta, 33, both citizens of India, were sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, following jury convictions for marriage and immigration fraud. As citizens of India not lawfully present in the United States, the Mehtas also face removal from the country. Mary Opoka, 56, of Troy, New York, was sentenced Thursday to three years of probation for her role in the scheme.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero of HSI Buffalo.
The evidence at trial established that Gaurav and Isha Mehta were married in India in February 2006. They claimed to be divorced in India in 2009, but then flew together, along with their child, to the United States, eventually settling in Menands, New York, and working together at a Menands gas station. The Mehtas came to the United States on six-month tourist visas that expired in 2010; neither had authorization to stay in the United States.
In October 2011, Opoka, a U.S. citizen, and Gaurav Mehta were married in Troy. Isha Mehta, also married a U.S. citizen in January 2013. Gaurav Mehta paid the citizen $2,000 to marry Isha. The fraudulent marriages were designed to enable Mehtas to stay in the United States as spouses of U.S. citizens.