A suburban immigration consultant is among two defendants arrested the week of Friday, February 8, 2013, after being indicted for allegedly conspiring to arrange sham marriages to evade immigration laws and enable foreign nationals to illegally become
These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and its partner agencies on the Chicago Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, which includes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service's Fraud Detection and National Security Unit.
Teresita Zarrabian, 60, a naturalized
Zarrabian, the owner of Zarrabian and Associates, an immigration consulting business in
Zarrabian and Smith pleaded not guilty when they appeared Thursday, February 7, 2013, and Friday, February 8, 2013, respectively, in district court. They were released on their own recognizance.
"Marriage fraud is a serious crime that exploits our nation's immigration system and poses a vulnerability to our security," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago. "HSI will continue its efforts to identify and arrest individuals whose actions show a complete disregard for
According to the indictment, between 2005 and 2012, Zarrabian assisted foreign-born clients to complete the necessary forms to become
Foreign nationals who marry
Zarrabian allegedly paid Smith a portion of the money she received from foreign-born clients for Smith's recruited
The obstruction count alleges that Zarrabian attempted to persuade a
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Iweagwu, Northern District of Illinois, is prosecuting the case.
Conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and each count of marriage fraud carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Visa fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The obstruction count against Zarrabian carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.