Ghanaian couple on trial for fake wedding in US
A Ghanaian couple has been accused of staging a fake wedding so that they could stay in the United States of America.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, the couple is standing trial in a federal court in central Ohio.
The two Lilan Asante and Kwadwo Asante have a 10-month old baby boy. Lilian is an immigration lawyer and Kwadwo worked as a financial analyst.
The two face the possibility of five years in prison, $250, 000 in fines and deportation to Ghana if found guilty. The two have meanwhile, pleaded not guilty to counts of marriage fraud and conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.
The report citing an affidavit filed in federal court in Columbus, said Lilian Asante already has admitted she married a Florida man purely to become a permanent resident of the United States. She actually lives with Kwadwo Asante and their son in Blacklick, the affidavit says.
For his part, Kwadwo Asante is accused of marrying a Youngstown woman for the sole purpose of staying in this country. Lilian Asante, with her knowledge of immigration law, “provided guidance” to the man in Florida and the woman in Youngstown about how to answer questions from immigration officials, according to the indictment.
The report provided a record that provides an outline of the case.
Kwadwo Asante, 39, and Lilian Asante, 37, were married on June 5, 1999, in Ghana. In August 2002, both were admitted to the U.S. as students — Kwadwo at Case Western, Lilian at Ohio State.
The Asantes had their marriage dissolved in May 2004. Kwadwo Asante remarried in 2005 and Lilian Asante in 2006. Each attended the other’s marriage ceremony, and each began the process of becoming a permanent U.S. resident.
In June 2006, just four months after Lilian Asante remarried, she applied for a mortgage with Kwadwo for the home in Blacklick, though she maintained in immigration documents that she lived in Florida. Kwadwo Asante said that his primary address was in Youngstown. The mortgage’s first page says, “Borrower is Kwadwo W. Asante and Lilian A. Asante, husband and wife.”
The government investigation appears to have begun by April 2008, when Special Agent Jeffrey Landthorn of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement saw the Asantes leaving the Blacklick house together. It’s unclear from court records what sparked the investigation.
In October, agents looked through trash from the Blacklick house and found mail addressed to both Asantes there. They interviewed neighbors who identified the Asantes as husband and wife. That same month, Lilian had a child and Kwadwo was listed on the birth certificate as the father.
Lilian Asante and the man she married appeared at a Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Tampa, Fla., in June as part of their request that she become a permanent legal resident.
According to the court records, the two admitted the fraud when they were interviewed separately. The man signed a statement saying, in part: “I married Lilian Antwiwaa Asante to help her obtain her resident alien status. We have never resided together as husband and wife. We have never consummated the marriage.”
Lilian and Kwadwo Asante were arrested on July 24 and released on their own recognizance, and then indicted on Aug. 4. Their trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 28 in U.S. District Court in Columbus, it added.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi