United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced the unsealing of a Second Superseding Indictment charging the following: Ebenezer Yeboah Asane (“Asane”) 37, of Fayetteville, North Carolina; 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. The charge includes 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 charges that Asane, a former soldier, operating from Fort Bragg and his 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.
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.
The indictment further charges Agyapong, a Sergeant at Fort Bragg, with obstructing an official proceeding by attempting to destroy evidence and influencing the testimony of a witness.
If convicted, the maximum punishment for committing Marriage Fraud, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1325(c), Conspiracy to Commit Marriage Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and False Statements, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1015(a) is not more than 5 years in prison. The maximum punishment for Harboring Aliens, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324(a) and Unlawful Disposition of U.S. Property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641 is 10 years in prison. The maximum punishment for Obstructing an Official Proceeding, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512, is not more than 20 years imprisonment. The maximum punishment for Visa Fraud, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1546(a), is not more than 25 years imprisonment.
The investigation of this case continues, and is being conducted by the Department of Homeland Security – Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant United States Attorney Gabriel Diaz represents the United States.
A copy of this press release is located on our website.
An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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