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Federal Way woman sentenced in sham marriage scheme

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Aug. 31, 2009 at 11:38 am |
August 31, 2009 11:40 am

A Federal Way woman was sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison today after she was convicted in a scheme in which she set up U.S. citizens with Cambodian nationals in fake marriages.

In January, a jury convicted Vuthy Sim, 35, of conspiracy to commit visa fraud, three counts of visa fraud, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, three counts of money laundering and concealing an illegal alien, according to a press release from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors alleged Sim recruited participants in the fake-marriage scheme starting in June 2002.  The purpose of the fake marriage was to get Cambodian nationals visas so they could come to the United States and obtain green cards.

“In furtherance of the scheme, and as directed by Sim, the U.S. citizen would travel to Cambodia and pose in staged engagement or wedding photos with a Cambodian national,” the press release states. “Sim typically would prepare the immigration paperwork and have the U.S. citizen sign it, and then would submit the immigration paperwork to Citizenship and Immigration Services.”

Each couple would have a civil wedding service in the U.S. once the Cambodian national arrived. Sim and her family members typically served as the witnesses.

Sim got money from the Cambodian national and then would pay the U.S. citizen $20,000, in installments, for the assistance, the press release states. During trial, prosecutors argued Sim earned $160,000 in the scheme.

Sim also was convicted of illegally concealing an illegal alien. Prosecutors contended that she sponsored her “mother” to come to the U.S. Turns out, the person who came was her sister. The sister has since fled to Cambodia, the press release states.

U.S. District Judge James L. Robart sentenced Sim this morning to  two years,  nine months in prison and to three years of supervised release. The judge called the scheme “troublesome and serious,” the attorney’s office reported.

“The victims in his kind of visa fraud … are our community … our society, and the people who could not come here, whose spots were being taken by those engaging in the fraud,” Robart said.

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