FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) — A former Fort Bragg soldier has been charged, along with 10 others, for arranging fraudulent marriages between U.S. Army soldiers and immigrants to help them evade U.S. immigration laws.
According to an indictment, former soldier Ebenezer Yeboah Asane, 37, operating at Asane’s home in Fayetteville, planned and organized the sham marriages of foreign nationals to U.S. Army soldiers based at Fort Bragg.
The purpose of the conspiracy was for the foreign-born nationals to evade U.S. immigration laws and obtain lawful permanent residence status and for the soldiers to receive Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to live off post, as opposed to the barracks.
Asane was charged along with 10 others: James Earnest Ekow Arthur, 32, of El Paso, Texas; Ernest Atta Gyasi, 43, of Bronx, New York; Samuel Manu Agyapong (“Agyapong”), 33, of Fayetteville, North Carolina; Barbara Oppong, 41, of Bronx, New York; William Steven Ballard, 23, of Fayetteville, North Carolina; Solace Kwakye, 30, of Bronx, New York; Yemisi Mary Opaso, 27, of Hanover, Maryland; Christopher Matthew Urquia, 23, of Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Kevyn Jakob Ward, 22, of Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Effua Agyare-Darko, 43, of Ardsley, New York.
In total, the 11 individuals are charged with 29 counts consisting of marriage fraud, transporting and harboring aliens, Visa fraud, obstruction, unlawful disposition of U.S. property, false statements in immigration matters, and conspiracy to marriage fraud.
The indictment further charges that various defendants conspired with Asane to recruit other soldiers into the fraudulent scheme, to orchestrate photographs to give the appearance the marriages were legitimate, and to submit false statements to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in support of the sham marriages.
Federal investigators also allege that one of Asane’s co-conspirators, Agyapong, a Sergeant at Fort Bragg, obstructed an official proceeding by attempting to destroy evidence and influencing the testimony of a witness.
If convicted, the maximum punishment for committing marriage fraud, conspiracy to commit marriage fraud is not more than five years in prison. The maximum punishment for harboring aliens is 10 years in prison. The maximum punishment for obstructing an official proceeding is not more than 20 years imprisonment. For Visa fraud, the maximum punishment is not more than 25 years imprisonment.
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