Connecticut Resident Sentenced to Prison for Operating Immigration Marriage Fraud Scheme

Connecticut Resident Sentenced to Prison for Operating Immigration Marriage Fraud Scheme

By Justice

Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JODIAN STEPHENSON, also known as “Jodian Gordon,” 37, of Bridgeport, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to six months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for arranging fraudulent marriages so that non-U.S. citizens would receive U.S. immigration benefits.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Stephenson operated Stephenson Immigration and Legal Services, LLC, in Bridgeport.  Between 2011 and 2017, Stephenson conspired with others to arrange 28 sham marriages between U.S. citizens and non-citizens residing in the U.S. for the purpose of the non-citizens’ applying for and obtaining “lawful permanent residence” (“LPR”) status, also known as a “green card.”

One of the 28 sham marriages was between Stephenson, who is a citizen of Jamaica, and a U.S. citizen.  For each of the other 27 fraudulent marriages, Stephenson found and introduced a U.S. citizen to be the non-citizen’s purported spouse and helped the couple obtain a marriage license.  She also organized the marriage ceremony and celebration, and coached the couple on how to make their marriage appear to be genuine despite their neither living together nor otherwise intending to remain actually married.

As part of the scheme, Stephenson prepared several immigration documents needed as part of the non-citizen’s LPR application.  She had the applicant and spouse sign the documents and, in many cases, mailed the documents to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service immigration authorities for the applicant.  In some cases, Stephenson or her assistants prepared other false documents for the couple, such as a false lease that portrayed the couple as living together.

Stephenson typically charged between $17,000 and $20,000 to complete this process for a non-citizen, and the citizen spouse received between $2,000 and $4,000 for his or her participation.

During the investigation, Stephenson offered to arrange a sham marriage for a federal law enforcement agent working in an undercover capacity, and help obtain a green card for the undercover agent, in exchange for a proposed fee of $20,000.  In recorded conversations, Stephenson then introduced the undercover agent to a U.S. citizen and advised them about the ways they could create the appearance that they were validly married and living together as husband and wife.

Stephenson was arrested on June 22, 2018.  On August 19, 2019, she pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit immigration marriage fraud.

Stephenson, who is released on a $250,000 bond, is required to report to prison on October 25.  She faces immigration proceedings when she completes her prison term.

A total of 10 individuals, including U.S. citizens who entered into one or more fraudulent marriages with non-citizens, have been charged with related offenses as a result of this investigation, and eight have pleaded guilty.  Removal proceedings have been or are being commenced against all individuals whose green card applications were found to have been based on sham marriages.

This investigation is being conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Office of Fraud Detection and National Security.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry K. Kopel.

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