Trial Begins For Actress Accused Of Fraudulent Marriage

Authorities have charged a Mexican born actress and her US citizen husband with entering into a fraudulent marriage to gain permanent resident status in the United States. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Left showed a picture of Fernanda Romero and Kent Ross on their wedding day but said the appearance was deceptive. Left states that, “It was a sham marriage.” Romero and Ross have each pleaded not guilty to charges of marriage fraud and making false statements. If convicted, they could each face a maximum prison sentence of five years. Prosecutors claimed that since their marriage in June 2005, they have maintained separate homes, dated other people and repeatedly lied on immigration forms. Prosecutors will present witness testimony from people who claim Romero and Ross told them the marriage was a fraud. The government claims Ross was paid $5,000 to marry Romero so she could obtain permanent resident status. Defense attorneys deny this assertion and hold that the couple has an unconventional yet passionate relationship and are still married. While marriage fraud cases are often handled in administrative immigration proceedings, the state will pursue criminal charges in this case because there was overwhelming evidence the marriage was fake.  Romero who has been living in and out of the U.S. for a decade, was a member of the Mexican pop group Fryzzby and had a small role in the 2009 film “Drag Me to Hell.” Full Article

Under NY Domestic Relations law, annulment renders marriage voidable, not void by focusing on the spouse’s status on date of marriage.  Grounds for annulment in NY are (i) infancy, (ii) physical or mental incapacity on the marriage date, (iii) fraud, and (iv) duress.  There is no right to an annulment it is always discretionary with the court.  Testimony of one spouse is not allowed and testimony must be corroborative.  Fraud is the misrepresentation or concealment of information by one fiancée prior to the marriage that goes to an essential aspect of that marriage that is calculated to deceive a reasonably prudent person. When a spouse consents to the marriage contract, but the consent is obtained by fraud, then the marriage is voidable.  To constitute fraud, the spouses fraudulent statements must have been a material inducement for the plaintiff to enter into the marriage contract. Annulments will not be granted if any time before commencing the action the plaintiff voluntarily cohabitated with the defendant with full knowledge of the fraud.  The statute of limitations to bring a claim for Fraud is limited to three years which begins to run on the date in which the fraud takes place.  It is important to note that changing your mind after your married is not considered to be fraud in the inducement.

Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C. is an experienced domestic relations firm in New York that works hard to achieve divorce judgments that are in the best interests of their clients.  The firm handles a full range of domestic relations issues including annulments based on fraud, bigamy, incest and infancy, as well as issues related to spousal maintenance and the equitable distribution of assets for divorce judgments.  If you are seeking a separation agreement, divorce action, annulment or other family law action please contact Leeds, Morelli & Brown, PC at 1-800-585-4658 for a free consultation or view their web page at www.lmblaw.com.