Fort Bragg soldier convicted of charges related to marriage and naturalization fraud
A federal jury convicted a Fort Bragg soldier assigned to 2nd SFAB (Security Force Assistance Brigade) July 2, 2021 on charges of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, aid and abet naturalization fraud, harboring an alien, visa fraud, theft of government property, along with trying to obstruct the testimony of a witness in an official proceeding, according to a press release from the U.S Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina.
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Samuel Manu Agyapong, 34, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ghana, was indicted on June 3, 2021 in a third superseding indictment.
Evidence presented at trial revealed that in February of 2019, a tipster alerted Fort Bragg U.S. Army CID (Criminal Investigation Division) that Agyapong, a U.S. citizen and soldier, was engaged in a sham marriage with Barbara Oppong, a citizen of Ghana who was unlawfully present in the U.S. “Agyapong agreed to engage in the sham marriage in exchange for Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for him and a lawful permanent resident card, commonly known as a green card, for Oppong,” stated the release. “Agyapong and Oppong were married in New York in January 2015.”
According to the release, Agyapong and Oppong then submitted fraudulent applications to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requesting Oppong’s adjustment of status as a lawful permanent resident in the United States, which she received. Based on the marriage to Agyapong, Oppong then filed an application for U.S. citizenship.
Additional evidence presented at the trial showed that Oppong resided in New York and Agyapong purchased a residence in Fayetteville and they seldom, if ever, traveled to see each other nor had they engaged in an actual marital union. “Further, evidence revealed that around the time Oppong and Agyapong were married and filed the applications, they omitted the fact that Oppong had two children with another individual,” the release continued.
The jury found Agyapong guilty on nine out of 11 counts including conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, aiding and abetting naturalization fraud, visa fraud, harboring certain aliens, false statements in immigration proceedings, theft of government property and tampering with a witness.
At sentencing, scheduled for the term of court beginning October 5, 2021, Agyapong faces maximum penalties of 25 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and a term of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.
“U.S. Soldiers who continue to engage in marriages to foreign nationals in order to reside off base, obtain BAH, and allow the alien access to military bases and military and immigration benefits jeopardize and erode the critical infrastructure of Government installations, and our national security” said G. Norman Acker III, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Acker made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan accepted the verdict. The Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) in the Eastern District of North Carolina led by Homeland Security Investigations and assisted by US Army CID investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Gabriel J. Diaz is prosecuting.
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