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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sham marriages

Some news out of Jacksonville. Eight sailors were arrested for partaking in sham marriages and defrauding the Navy out of thousands of dollars.

I'm ex-Navy and have a foreign born spouse too. While in the service I knew servicemen and women who married people they met when stationed overseas. We all had to endure the form filling and bureaucratic requirements to bring our spouses home.

Personally I never knew anyone who married for convenience. Many of the Filipinas I knew loved their husbands and at the same time were excited for their trip to America with their husband but also knew they would miss their families. My dear wife loved me and said yes within seconds of my asking, but it wasn't a decision she made lightly. On arrival in the US she would cry for she missed her family.

Let me also say I'm not naive either. The area around Subic had a thriving skin industry. Women who did lots of things for sailors(Prostitution, stripping). I'd guess some of them wanted green cards for the purpose of coming to the US and for that only. Not love, then I think most servicemen would be able to see through that.

For us the petition process took 5.5 months. Today this takes a year. Your paperwork basically sits and waits its turn. First with an immigration processing center in the US(For Florida residents its one in Dallas), then at the embassy of the country your wife is living in. If a serviceman PCSs out of the country, a couple can become separated. Dear wife and I were for two months before she finally arrived home.

This is a stressful experience. For to both Immigration and embassy people, you're guilty of marriage fraud till proven innocent. These sailors if the charges are true, have just made life more difficult for others. Including our brave fighting men and women. It makes me angry. For other people's stupidity, we have to go through alot of bullshit. If the sailors are found guilty, I hope they are given the justice they deserve.

Open Post- Bright & Early, Third World County, Right Wing Nation,

A cadre of Jacksonville-based sailors spent much of last year arranging sham marriages to European women and used them to defraud the Navy out of thousands of dollars, federal officials said Tuesday.

Some of the enlisted men from Mayport Naval Station took payments of up to $6,000 to arrange marriages mostly for Polish women looking for American husbands to enable them to stay in the United States and receive military benefits, court records show. Another benefit: The sailors boosted their basic housing allowances from the Navy by claiming the women as dependents, though immigration officials say none of the couples lived together and most of the women left Jacksonville.

The rank of the sailors arrested Tuesday on marriage fraud charges range from seamen to petty officer third class. In 2005, those ranks serving in Jacksonville received $748 a month for a housing allowance if they had no dependents and $934 a month with dependents, according to the Pentagon. In 2006, those ranks received $707 a month without dependents and $959 with dependents.

On Tuesday, agents arrested five sailors from the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy, a former sailor and his Polish wife on fraudulent marriage charges. Arrest warrants were issued for three more Mayport sailors, all of whom are deployed, and seven more Polish and Romanian women they married in 2004 and 2005

If convicted, the suspects face five- to 10-year prison sentences, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gallagher said.

The arrests resulted from an investigation into housing allowance fraud begun in September by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Jacksonville.

"Agents learned that eight sailors who are, or were, stationed in Mayport fraudulently married Polish and Romanian women," U.S. Attorney Paul Perez said. "As a result of the fraudulent marriages, the ... women could petition to gain U.S. citizenship."

Many of the marriages were arranged by a Polish-born sailor from the USS Simpson, also based at Mayport, immigration officials said.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service was tipped off by a chief petty officer while the Kennedy was involved in training exercises off the Florida coast. According to court records, the chief told an agent assigned to the ship that Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Timothy Dodge had fraudulently married a Polish woman and planned to apply for a basic housing allowance.

The allowance is a tax-free payment to offset housing costs for active-duty military personnel who live off base. The amount is based on rank, location, marital status and number of dependents and in this case resulted in higher payments based upon the sailors' claims that their wives lived in high cost-of-living areas, Perez said. He said the Navy paid $35,000 in fraudulent housing allowances before the scam was discovered.

Dodge, 22, was questioned and told Navy investigators he married Edyta Sadowska in September in Kingsland, Ga. He said the marriage was set up by Kennedy Airman Isaac Bell, and that afterward, Dodge took Sadowska to Mayport to obtain a military ID card, according to a court affidavit. She then returned to Chicago, the marriage unconsummated, Dodge told an agent. Dodge said he hasn't seen her since.

Court documents show Sadowska paid $4,000 for the marriage. The money, authorities said, was split by Bell and his roommate, Petty Officer 3rd Class Joe Conn, and two Polish women married to Mayport sailors.

Dodge, Bell and Conn all were arrested on base Tuesday and charged with conspiracy to enter into fraudulent marriages. Bell and Conn, both 23, face an additional count of conspiracy to present false claims against the United States.

Court records show Dodge made a recorded phone call for Navy investigators and tried to back out of the marriage. Bell told him it would cost him $5,000 and force Sadowska to leave the country, the affidavit says.

Also arrested Tuesday morning on both counts were Airmen Isidro Cruz III, 22, and Horatioalexander King, 24; former Seaman Timothy Richard McNomee, 21, and his wife, Monika Agnieszka Kubaczka, 27. Cruz and King are both stationed on the Kennedy; McNomee was on the Simpson.

U.S. Magistrate Howard Snyder set bail at $10,000 unsecured for each defendant and ordered Kubaczka to surrender her Polish passport. He appointed a lawyer for each.

Bell and Conn told investigators they were introduced to the scheme by Dariusz Stanley Baranski, a Polish-born seaman aboard the Simpson, the affidavit says. They said he collected $2,000 to $6,000 from the women to arrange marriages to sailors and later paid Bell and Conn finder's fees when they decided to arrange marriages themselves.

Conn told investigators Baranski threatened to hurt him if he ever revealed the fraudulent marriage scheme to authorities. Gallagher said Baranski is on deployment and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. His wife hasn't been charged.

Most of the marriages took place at the Duval County Clerk of Courts' satellite office in Jacksonville Beach. But on at least one occasion, a couple were told they would have to wait three days under Florida law and decided to drive to Kingsland to get married so the new bride and her boyfriend wouldn't miss their flight back to New York.

After the weddings, the women would be taken to the base to get ID cards and sign up for military benefits, including health insurance, Gallagher said. He said immigration officials will review their status and whether they will be deported.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service spokesman Ed Buice said fraudulent marriages aren't a major issue in the Navy but do pop up periodically and are investigated thoroughly.

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