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Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Sham Marriage Scheme Busted in Vermont
Many sham marriages - fraudulent marriages which often lead to residency and ultimately citizenship benefits for immigrants - go undetected each year by the United States government. But sometimes sham marriage immigration schemes are uncovered, as in this recent example from Vermont, as reported in the Boston Globe, A Marriage of a Dream and a Scheme, in which case illegal immigrants (mostly, if not all, from Brazil) paid Americans to marry them to get legal residency status. According to the article, Maria-Helena Knoller, a Holyoke woman and Brazilian immigrant responsible for the scheme, was recently prosecuted and convicted for marriage fraud and concealing and shielding illegal immigrants in the case of 32 sham marriages, and is now out free on a $100,000 bond and working in a Chicopee Donut shop while awaiting sentencing. 22 of those 32 sham marriages occurred in Brattleboro, Vermont, and half of these 32 sham marriages have already ended in divorce here in Massachusetts. Apparently, the scheme seemed to begin and end in Massachusetts, although many of these participants were led across the Vermont border to Brattleboro for their nuptials. (There were seven other additional sham marriages revealed, but Knoller was not prosecuted for those.)