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September 19, 2019Cart

Business

by Fairfield County Business Journal
by FCBJ

Bridgeport immigration consultant pleads guilty in marriage fraud scheme

Jodian Stephenson, the owner of the now-defunct consultancy Immigration and Legal Services LLC in Bridgeport, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge related to her activity in arranging fraudulent marriages that enabled non-U.S. citizens to receive U.S. immigration benefits.

Stephenson, who also went by the name Jodian Gordon, was part of a conspiracy that arranged 28 sham marriages between U.S. citizens and non-citizens for the purpose of helping the latter apply for and obtain lawful permanent residence status, more commonly known as a green card. One of the marriages involved Stephenson, who is a citizen of Jamaica, and a U.S. citizen. For the others, she helped the couples obtain a marriage license and arrange their marriage ceremonies, and she also coached them on how to make their marriage appear to be genuine – even though the couples did not live together and never intended to stay married.

Stephenson also prepared several immigration documents needed as part of the non-citizen’s green card application. 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 in a genuine union. Stephenson 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. The conspiracy ended when Stephenson offered to arrange a sham marriage for an undercover federal law enforcement agent for a proposed fee of $20,000.

Stephenson was arrested in June 2018 and has been free on a $250,000 bond. She faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, although her sentencing date is not scheduled. Six other individuals involved in this scheme have already pleaded guilty.