Former Ft. Bragg soldier gets prison time for sham marriages between US soldiers, foreign nationals

Cumberland County News

(AP Photo/Chris Seward, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A former Fort Bragg soldier was sentenced to federal prison after he pleaded guilty to orchestrating sham marriages between U.S. soldiers and foreign nationals, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Ebenezer “Ben” Yeboah Asane was sentenced Thursday to 44 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release following his guilty plea in Aug. 2020.

Asane planned and organized the sham marriages between foreign nationals from Ghana and soldiers at Fort Brag, the DOJ said.

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 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.

An 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.

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