New York Woman Admits Entering Sham Marriage in Immigration Fraud Case

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Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that on October 1, 2021, AUDREY BONET JOHNSON, 34, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty in New Haven federal court to conspiracy to commit immigration marriage fraud.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on March 1, 2012, Johnson, a U.S. citizen, and Shanon St. Aubyn Stephenson, a citizen of Jamaica, entered into a fraudulent marriage.  Shortly thereafter, Johnson and Stephenson applied to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS) for Stephenson to become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., often called a “green card.”  Following an interview with the USCIS in 2012, Stephenson was issued a temporary, two-year green card.  In subsequent submissions and statements to the USCIS, Johnson and Stephenson claimed to be married and living together in Brooklyn, New York.  In fact, Stephenson married Jodian Stephenson, also known as Jodian Gordon, in 2010, and lived with her, and not Johnson, in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford on January 4, 2022, at which time she faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

This investigation revealed that Jodian Stephenson, a citizen of Jamaica, operated Stephenson Immigration and Legal Services, LLC, in Bridgeport.  Between 2011 and 2017, she 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  green cards.  One of the sham marriages was between Johnson and Shanon Stephenson, and another was between Jodian Stephenson and a U.S. citizen.  Jodian Stephenson typically 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, 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, and prepared and helped submit several immigration documents needed as part of the non-citizen’s green card application.  Jodian 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.

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Jodian Stephenson and Shanon Stephenson each previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit immigration marriage fraud.  On August 26, 2021, Jodian Stephenson was sentenced to six months of imprisonment.  Shanon Stephenson awaits sentencing.

A total of 10 individuals were charged as a result of this investigation, and all 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 has been 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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