Four charged after Ft. Bragg soldiers helped arrange sham marriages for immigrants
Two Fort Bragg soldiers are accused of arranging a fraudulent marriage between soldiers and immigrants in exchange for money and housing, according to federal court documents released Friday.
Court documents show an investigation began in December when Pvt. Endasia East admitted her marriage to Sulemana Ibrahim, a Ghana citizen, was fraudulent during an interview regarding an extramarital affair with another soldier.
According to court documents, East said she was asked by Pvt. Ahmid Mohammed, a naturalized citizen from Ghana, if she would be willing to marry Ibrahim so that he could obtain lawful residence in the United States.
In exchange for marrying Ibrahim, East told investigators she was offered a basic housing allowance, $1,250 to cover two months of rent and furniture for her new apartment in Fayetteville.
Mohammed introduced Ibrahim and East to each other and paid for Ibrahim, who was living in New York, to travel to Fayetteville to learn about the immigration process.
Mohammed served as a witness and signed the marriage license when East and Ibrahim married on July 24, court documents state.
Following the ceremony at a Cumberland County courthouse, East said she was taken to dinner and introduced to Sgt. Edward Kumi Anguah, who is described in court documents as the “facilitator” of the sham marriages.
During that meeting, Anguah told East that he had arranged several other sham marriages and was familiar with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services paperwork required from both the soldiers and immigrant spouses, court documents state.
East said she and Ibrahim were told to stage photographs in order to make the marriage look legitimate and that Anguah had her practice the answers to questions that might be asked during an immigration interview. Anguah then used those answers to complete immigration forms for the couple, court documents said.
East told investigators she was instructed to place Ibrahim’s name on her apartment lease when she moved off Fort Bragg and received mail addressed to him at the apartment, even though he continued to live in New York.
According to federal documents, East said that she was asked by Anguah if she was willing to find additional soldiers for him to arrange marriages with.
On Jan. 11, an undercover officer posing as a friend of East’s met with Anguah at a Starbucks. During the meeting, Anguah explained the requirements of the sham marriage to the officer and asked how much she would charge to participate in the marriage.
Several days later, Anguah told the undercover officer that he had arranged for a man to marry her in exchange for $6,000, of which he would take a cut, court documents said.
Anguah introduced the officer to Kawaphoom Eugene Hoomkwap through a phone call and asked for their personal information to begin filling out a marriage license.
“Sgt. Anguah stated he would take care of the ring and ‘everything.’ The two agreed on Jan. 25 to get married at the Cumberland County courthouse,” court documents said.
Arrest warrants were issued Thursday for Anguah, Hoomkwap, Mohammad and Ibrahim on charges of marriage fraud, aiding and abetting and fraud and misuse of visas, permits and other documents.