Sham Marriage Trial May End In Mistrial

The sham marriage trial of actress Fernanda Romero, which the judge has likened to a soap opera, appeared threatened with a mistrial Friday after a dramatic turn a day earlier.  Criminal charges were brought against Romero, a Mexican soap opera actress and model, and Kent Ross, a pizza delivery man and musician.  They were charged with committing marriage fraud after a jilted ex-lover, Markus Klinko, reported her to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  Romero allegedly paid her husband to marry her in June 2005 so that she could obtain a U.S. work visa.  Romero and Ross were both 23 when they had a Los Angeles wedding.  The wedding was attended by only a handful of people and there was no honeymoon, which Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James Left argued was evidence of a sham marriage.  When immigration agents conducted a surprise ‘bed check’ at Romero’s Los Angeles apartment in October 2007, they only found her. They later found Ross at a Hollywood apartment, they testified.  If convicted, both parties could get between 15 and 21 months in prison.  Full Article

Under federal law, if a New York Immigration Service suspects that an alien has entered into a sham marriage, that alien is subject to removal from the United States.  For that to happen, the marriage must be fraudulent at its inception or from the very beginning.  To determine whether the marriage was fraudulent at inception, the Immigration Service looks at several factors.  The overall issue is whether the bride and groom intend to establish a life together.  The government looks at both the subjective state of mind, as well as objective factors like the conduct of parties before and after the marriage is relevant. To prove validity of the marriage, the couple must present evidence which may include, but is not limited to, insurance policies, property, leases, income tax, bank accounts, etc.  Additionally, the couple must be consistent in its answers to the immigration officer.  A marriage entered into for the purpose of gaining citizenship carries severe penalties of up to a $250,000 and/or five years imprisonment.

The attorneys at Leeds, Morelli & Brown, P.C. are experienced in all domestic relations matters, and have represented families in Nassau and Suffolk counties, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island.  For any questions concerning domestic relations matters, contact an attorney at the Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C. law firm for a free consultation at 1-888-556-2529.  Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C.’s divorce website is located at

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