SACRAMENTO, CA - A 65-page federal criminal complaint from the U.S. Attorney's Office claims that Sippy Lal, 55, and Mamta Sharma, 34, of Sacramento, orchestrated a complicated scheme, which arranged fake marriages to secure visas for non-citizens.
The couple was arrested at their home Tuesday.
Court documents allege Lal and Sharma arranged numerous sham engagements and marriages between U.S. citizens and citizens of India.
According to the documents, the couple recruited a number of women who were all U.S. citizens. The women were sent to India to meet their future husbands. There they would get married, often using a false alias. Then the men would return to the United States and start the visa process.
The women recruits were paid a much as $15,000 each.
Documents indicate that Lal and Sharma were associated with as many as 70 visa petitions, dating back to 2005.
"Wow. I didn't know that. That's very shocking to me," neighbor Michayla Taylor said. "I would never think that. They've always kept quiet."
"There's a lot of money involved here," nieghbor John Allhouse said. "We're trying to add it up and we're talking about half a million dollars."
"I'm very surprised," neighbor Margaret Allhouse said. "They're very nice people. I would never ever thought anything of them. I would never in my wildest dreams thought anything strange."
By Suzanne Phan, firstname.lastname@example.org