LA-based Filipino convicted of setting up 300 fake marriages for ‘green card’
LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles-based Filipino has been convicted in federal court in Boston of setting up more than 300 fake marriages to help foreign nationals get a “green card” or lawful permanent resident status in the United States.
Engilbert Ulan, 42, was convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and immigration document fraud, the US attorney’s office said in a statement.
He is the 10th defendant to be convicted in this case. Ulan and his co-defendants were arrested and charged last year with “conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and immigration document fraud,” authorities said.
Ulan is scheduled to be sentenced on March 6, 2024. He faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, said the statement released last week.
Another Filipino based in LA, Marcialito Biol Benitez, 49, pleaded guilty last September 27. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper has scheduled sentencing for Jan. 10, 2024. Benitez allegedly operated the fraud agency in the Koreatown district of Los Angeles.
The agency allegedly charged fees of $20,000 to $30,000 paid in cash. It allegedly submitted fraudulent marriage and immigration documents, including false tax returns, and recruited US citizens to marry the agency’s clients.
The agency reportedly staged wedding ceremonies at chapels and parks, then submitted the photos to help authenticate marriage-based immigration petitions to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency responsible for granting lawful permanent resident status.
“For many clients, the agency would take photos of undocumented clients and citizen spouses in front of prop wedding decorations for later submission with immigration petitions,” prosecutors said.
“Ulan coached the sham couples to provide the same, fabricated answers to questions posed during green card interviews and conceal the fraudulent nature of the marriages.”
“Marriage fraud is a serious offense that undermines the foundation of our nation’s immigration system,” Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy said in a statement.
“Mr. Ulan and his co-conspirators not only exploited our immigration system for personal gain, but also compromised the United States’ principles of welcoming immigrants and prospective citizens.”
He added that the “swift and decisive enforcement action taken in this case reflects our commitment to preserving the integrity of the immigration process and upholding the values that have defined this nation.”