CHICAGO — A former federal law enforcement officer was convicted Monday of witness tampering for impeding a wide-ranging federal investigation into visa fraud and a sham marriage she had arranged for a Mongolian relative.
This conviction was announced by U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon, Northern District of Illinois. This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service Chicago Field Office, with assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.
After a five-day trial in federal court, the jury convicted Enkhchimeg Ulziibayar Edwards, aka “Eni Edwards,” on two counts of witness tampering and two counts of making false statements to the Executive Branch of the U.S. government. Each count of witness tampering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while the false statement counts each carry a maximum sentence of five years.
Edwards, 38, of Carpentersville, Illinois, is a U.S. citizen of Mongolian descent. Evidence at trial revealed that she arranged a sham marriage in 2003 to allow her cousin, a Mongolian national, to marry Edwards’ friend and obtain U.S. permanent residence. In 2008, Edwards served as the vice president of the American Mongolian Association and personally vouched for Mongolians attempting to enter the United States.
Edwards subsequently was hired as an officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In her employment application and background check, Edwards denied having close or continuing contact with foreign nationals.
During her time at CBP, Edwards was assigned to a team of federal law enforcement authorities conducting a broad investigation into visa fraud involving Mongolian immigrants. In the course of that investigation, authorities began looking into the role that Edwards played in the sham marriage. On at least two occasions during the investigation, Edwards attempted to corruptly persuade her friend to lie to investigators regarding the true reason for marrying Edwards’ cousin.
The jury trial was conducted before Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, who sat in the district court by designation. Judge Posner scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 26.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter S. Salib and Megan Cunniff Church, Northern District of Illinois, prosecuted this case.