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Soldier helps organize ‘sham’ marriage to skirt immigration laws in NC case, feds say

A sign at one of the entrances to Fort Bragg. (Fish Cop./WikiCommons)

A U.S. Army soldier is among two people accused of helping to arrange “sham marriages” to skirt immigration laws, federal prosecutors in North Carolina say.

Joshua Kwame Asane, 45, and Lawrence Oppong Kyekyeku, 28, have been indicted on multiple charges that include marriage fraud, officials said Wednesday in a news release.

The two are accused of convincing U.S. citizens to marry with the intent of bypassing immigration rules by “obtaining lawful permanent residence status for otherwise inadmissible foreign-born nationals,” according to the release from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

A social media user believed to be Asane didn’t immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Wednesday afternoon. Attorney information for Oppong Kyekyeku wasn’t listed on the federal government’s case search website.

Asane is accused of getting married to a Fort Bragg soldier in 2016. His wife said she met and communicated with him for the first time on their wedding day, according to a criminal complaint filed last month in federal court.

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The government in its news release didn’t explicitly specify whether it was Asane or Oppong Kyekyeku who served in the military.

It said those indicted included a “citizen of Ghana, as well as a naturalized citizen of the U.S., born in Ghana who is also an active member of the U.S(.) Army.” Asane is described in the release as a “foreign student.”

It isn’t the first time alleged marriage schemes have been linked to military members.

In January 2019, four people were charged after federal prosecutors said people stationed at Fort Bragg were involved in organizing “sham marriages,” The News & Observer previously reported.

Asane, who lives in Norfolk, Virginia, could face a $1.25 million fine, 50-year prison sentence and probation if he is convicted, officials say. His charges include “conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, marriage fraud, visa fraud, false statement in an immigration proceeding and preventing testimony of a person in an official proceeding,” according to federal prosecutors.

Oppong Kyekyeku could have to pay $500,000, spend 10 years in prison and be on probation “if convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, marriage fraud, and aiding and abetting,” officials say.

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© 2020 The News & Observer