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2 more in marriage fraud with FilAms sentenced

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
Special to Philippines Today
 
CHICAGO (jGLi) – Two more American women, who entered into fraudulent marriages arranged by Filipino American Maria Flordelis Pulido-Cruz, were each sentenced on February 29 to six months house arrest.
Keisha McGary, 36, and DeShawn Barksdale, 40, both former co-employes of Ms. Cruz at the Traffic Court of Cook County in Chicago, Illinois, were also sentenced to two years’ probation.
While Ms. McGary was ordered to pay $1,000 fine, United States District Court Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan of the Northern District Court of Illinois in Chicago waived the fine for Ms. Barksdale “because of her (Barksdale’s) financial problem.”
Both of them will be wearing electronic monitoring device (EMD) during their six months’ home confinement. But Ms. Barksdale will not be paying the $3-a-day cost to pay the EMD’s monitoring company.
While McGary was required to perform 20-hour community service, Ms. Barksdale is required to perform 200 hours of community service. They will also both be paying the mandatory $100 court fees.
Both of them apologized for their mistakes in entering into fraudulent marriages for a fee of $10,000 each from two Filipinos, who wanted to become permanent U.S. residents.
It was sometime in July 2003 when Cruz proposed to McGary while they were at work if she would marry someone identified only as “KE,” who was willing to pay her a down payment of $3,000 and a $400 a month for one year.
When McGary agreed, Cruz introduced her to KE. The following day, McGary and KE were wed in a civil matrimony with Cruz as the lone witness.
The newlyweds secured Illinois state ID cards that showed their same address at Elk Gove Village, Illinois, opened joint bank accounts and obtained life insurance policies to show to the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Service that they were living together when were not. 
BARKSDALE ADMITTED HELPING BUT WITHOUT MONEY INVOLVED 
This scenario was replicated by Ms. Barksdale in a sham marriage to another foreign national identified only as “GF.” They also applied for several utility bills bearing their  identical addresses although they were living apart.
When they were separately interviewed by the U.S. CIS, Barksdale capitulated by admitting she merely wanted to help GF obtain his green card but falsely answered “no” when asked if she were offered money for the marriage.
On the other hand, when U.S. CIS interviewed McGary, she portrayed her marriage to “KE” as legit and falsely claimed they were living together. She never admitted, accepting money for the marriage fraud.
While McGary was assisted by Gerardo Gutierrez, Ms. Keri Ambrosio was the private defense lawyer for Barksdale.
McGary and Barksdale were the fifth and sixth defendants, who were convicted in a marriage conspiracy involving ten defendants. The first to be sentenced was Cruz, who got a 33-month jail sentence. Cruz’s sentence was followed by the two-year sentence for immigration lawyer, Manny Aguja, and the one-year-and-and-one-day jail sentence for Aguja’s twin brother, Marc Aguja, and the six-month house arrest for Latrice Wilson.
The seventh defendant, Sonia Maki, is slated for sentencing on March 6 at 10 a.m. while the eighth, Eugene Wilson, will be sentenced on May 3, 2012 at 11 a.m.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason A. Yonan said he is still contacting the lawyers of the two other defendants, Celeste Ligutan-Lopez and Maria Fernandez, to schedule their sentencing dates. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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