Emily Saul, New York Post, January 29, 2019
A husband and wife duo were busted for allegedly running a years-long green-card “marriage fraud ring” in Brooklyn, prosecutors said Tuesday.
William Jacobsen, 60, and Marta Medvedeva, 68, were hauled before Brooklyn federal court Tuesday evening to face charges over the scheme, which saw the duo charging foreigners $30,000 to find citizens willing to enter into sham marriages and then coaching the bogus couples through their immigration interviews, prosecutors allege.
The bust came after the feds tapped Jacobsen’s phone for months — and sent in a wired-up source who offered to participate in “a sham marriage for money” and was then paired up with a potential wife, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.
In October last year, the FBI sent the unnamed “confidential source” to meet with Jacobsen at his Brighton Beach property while secretly recording video of the interaction, during which the 60-year-old allegedly said “he was involved in a fifteen year conspiracy to arrange fraudulent marriages between American citizens and foreign nationals,” according to court papers.
Jacobsen then “explained how the scheme worked” — saying the source would receive $10,000 while the spouse would be charged $30,000, and that they would need to create a joint bank account and add the spouse’s name to the source’s lease, the feds allege.
In a taped phone call with Jacobsen the following day, he allegedly told the source the interview with immigration authorities would be “easy.”
“The hardest part is the marriage, cause both sides are nervous, they have to go there and kiss each other,” he said.
In one exchange, a “citizen spouse” from Staten Island gripes to Jacobsen that their sham marriage is interfering with picking up new lovers.
“How long do I need to be married to this [guy/girl]?” the citizen whined, according to the court documents.
“Maybe another year,” Jacobsen allegedly replied, to which the citizen responded, “We’ve already been married a year and a half.”
Medvedeva, a Ukrainian national, got her citizenship via her marriage to Jacobsen, according to court documents.
Jacobsen was detained pending a bail hearing, while Medvedeva was released on $100,000 bond.