Marriage fraud alleged in bid for U.S. citizenship

MACKINAC COUNTY, MI -(Grand Rapids News, Oct 18,2017):  A Vietnamese woman allegedly offered a Michigan man $20,000 to marry her to evade U.S. immigration law.

Andrew James Murray and Trang Minh Nguyen were indicted Tuesday, Oct. 17, on a charge of marriage fraud, a five-year felony.

Both are free on bond.

The couple married on April 4, 2014, in St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula.

In applications filed with the government, they provided photos of themselves at their wedding and other social situations, court records said. They also provided a bank statement from a joint account.

Both insisted during initial interviews with investigators that their marriage was legitimate but later acknowledged it was a sham, an investigator said.

Nguyen paid Murray $13,000 of a promised $20,000, Todd Allen, a special agent for the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, wrote in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

He detailed the investigation in an 11-page complaint.

The investigation started in April 2016 when a supervisor at the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, where Murray worked as an officer, told federal authorities that Nguyen paid Murray to marry so she could obtain U.S. citizenship, Allen wrote.

The supervisor learned of the agreement from one of Murray’s relatives. The supervisor was told that Murray’s uncle, who was married to Nguyen’s aunt, helped arrange the marriage, the investigator wrote.

“Further, the (supervisor) was told that Murray and Nguyen had practiced the answers to questions they knew would be asked when Nguyen applied for citizenship,” Allen wrote.

Nguyen entered the U.S. as a student on March 29, 2012, living in New York. After the marriage, her status changed from student to conditional resident and she and Murray listed an address on East 12 Mile Road in Sault Ste. Marie.

Another Homeland Security special agent, Alexander McLellan, conducted surveillance in June 2016 at a home on Ashmun Street, where investigators believed Murray was living with his girlfriend.

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