Posted on March 23, 2011

Witnesses Detail Workings of Sham Wedding Scheme

David Hench. Portland Press Herald (Maine), March 22, 2011

A Massachusetts man faces charges of conspiring to defraud the federal government by arranging numerous sham weddings between Mainers and people from Africa seeking to become legal residents of the United States.

Rashid Kakande, 37, appeared Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland for the opening of his trial before a federal jury. He is charged with arranging payments of up to $5,000 for women and men willing to marry people from Uganda and other African countries who were here on expiring tourist or student visas.

The ultimate goal of the marriages, according to the government, was to get permanent legal status and, eventually, citizenship. Most of the weddings were held in apartments in Lewiston.

The marriages themselves were worth $1,500, followed by additional payments as the U.S. recruits filled out paperwork to support the charade and met with immigration officials to convince them that the marriages were legitimate, according to court papers filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Fisk Malone, the prosecutor in the case.


Kakande is described as overseeing a conspiracy that led to more than 15 arranged marriages from 2003 to 2007.

He was indicted in July along with another man, James Mbugua, 49, who was arrested in Springfield, Mass., on charges that he arranged several marriages between Mainers and Africans for immigration reasons. {snip}