A New Jersey woman was sentenced to seven months in prison for an immigration marriage fraud offense, according to federal officials.
Audrey Bonet Johnson, 34, also was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to serve 45 days in a halfway house when she is released from prison and to two years of supervised release.
Authorities, citing court documents and statements made in court, said Johnson, a U.S. citizen, and Shanon St. Aubyn Stephenson, a citizen of Jamaica, entered into a fraudulent marriage in 2012.
“Shortly thereafter, Johnson and Stephenson applied to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service” for Stephenson to become a “lawful permanent resident of the U.S., often called a ‘green card.’” according to federal officials.
Stephenson received a temporary, two-year green card in 2021 and in “subsequent submissions and statements to the USCIS, Johnson and Stephenson claimed to be married and living together in Brooklyn, New York,” federal officials said in a statement.
“In fact, Stephenson married Jodian Stephenson, also known as Jodian Gordon, in 2010, and lived with her, and not Johnson, in Bridgeport, Connecticut,” the statement said.
Authorities said the investigation also showed that Jodian Stephenson, also citizen of Jamaica, operated Stephenson Immigration and Legal Services, LLC, in Bridgeport.
Stephenson, between 2011 and 2017, “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,” federal officials said in the statement.
Federal authorities have previously said “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.”
Authorities said one of the sham marriages was between Johnson and Shanon Stephenson, and another was between Jodian Stephenson and a U.S. citizen.
Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit immigration marriage fraud in October 2021 Jodian Stephenson and Shanon Stephenson pleaded guilty to the same charge; Jodian Stephenson was sentenced to six months in prison in August 2021 and Shanon Stephenson awaits sentencing, the statement said.
Authorities said 10 people were charged as a result of the and all pleaded guilty and “removal proceedings have been or are being commenced against all individuals whose green card applications were found to have been based on sham marriages.”