Valeriy Tsoy (35) -- a citizen of Kazakhstan -- was found guilty of marriage fraud by a federal jury in Orlando, Florida. Also on July 23, Zafar Bakhramovic Yadigarov (27) of Uzbekistan) pleaded guilty to marriage fraud and conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. Each of the two illegal immigrants face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. Tsoy’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 24, while Yadigarov’s sentencing is scheduled for October 10. Each of them was indicted on August 30, 2017.

In 2015, federal agents from  Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations worked with the Brevard County Clerk of the Court to investigate a significant surge in the number of aliens from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and other former Soviet countries fraudulently marrying American citizens Brevard County, Florida. The leader of the marriage fraud ring, Dennis Yakovlev, admitted to facilitating at least 50 sham marriages over an 18-month span. 

The foreign nationals, hailing from Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China, India, Belarus, and Turkey, traveled to Brevard County from around the United States. Yakovlev claimed that he was typically paid $1,000 to $2,000 per sham marriage and that the American citizens were paid between $10,000 and $20,000 each. Many of the aliens who engaged in these marriages initially entered the country on student visas, but later fell out of legal status. Nine individuals, including Tsoy and Yadigarov, have been convicted of marriage fraud charges during the course of this investigation.

The testimony and evidence in Tsoy’s trial indicated that, in 2015, Tsoy was living in Brooklyn, New York on an expired visa. In an effort to gain permanent residence in the United States, he sought out the services of a fraudulent wedding facilitator (Yakovlev). Tsoy then traveled to Brevard County to marry a U.S. citizen (April Moore). In exchange for the marriage and the filing of immigration documents, Tsoy paid Yakovlev, Moore, and a recruiter approximately $10,000. Tsoy spent a few hours with Moore before marrying her on July 6, 2015, at the courthouse in Titusville. 

According to court documents, while living on a temporary student visa in Brooklyn in 2015, Yadigarov traveled to Brevard County to meet with Yakovlev and a U.S. citizen wife-to-be (Meghan Toole). Shortly thereafter, Yadigarov married Toole and returned to Brooklyn. Yadigarov and Toole filed immigration paperwork in an effort to secure his legal permanent residence.
 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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